Don’t ask me why, but folks (especially vegetarians, interestingly enough) seem to have a really difficult time wrapping their heads around the idea of a vegan sandwich. Once you subtract the meat and cheese, all that’s left to put between two slices of bread is a slice of mushy tomato and a leaf of soggy iceberg lettuce, right? Or maybe a hunk of hyper-processed flabby fake meat soy product? Don’t worry, guys. There is more to (vegan) life than empty sandwiches. Once you start thinking outside the box, there are endless possibilities.
Here are just a few of my favorite quick and easy vegan sandwiches:
Tempeh-bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, and Tomato (aka TBLAT) Sandwich: This is the sandwich that made me appreciate the deliciousness of tempeh at a time when all I knew was the soggy, bland mush they douse with barbecue sauce at every old school vegetarian diner. You can use soy bacon if you absolutely prefer, but you’ll be missing out, because the combination of tempeh and avocado is pretty incredible. I have to confess that I’m not sure I’ve ever had a “real” BLT, but I am nevertheless certain that this version is more tasty and satisfying than the original. The avocado adds a much-needed butteriness that rounds out and balances the saltiness of the bacon and the sweet tanginess of the tomato. If you’re feeling adventurous, spice up the mayo with a few dashes of chipotle hot sauce or Cajun spices.
- Two pieces of your favorite bread, toasted
- the reddest, juiciest tomato you can find, thinly sliced
- 1/2 package tempeh bacon (I love Lightlife brand), fried until crisp
- enough vegan mayo to thickly slather on both pieces of toast (I was once a devoted fan of Veganaise, but Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo takes the vegan mayo game to new heights.)
- 2 leaves of butter lettuce or another mild lettuce
- 1 half avocado, thinly sliced
Layer tempeh on one slice of mayo-slathered bread. Top with avocado, then top with tomato and lettuce. Try not to swallow the whole sandwich in one bite.
Indian-spiced Chicken-style Salad Sandwich: The combination of sweet and savory in this sandwich may sound a little strange, but, trust me, it works. The curry mayo is rich and warm, but needs sweetness to keep the flavor from from falling flat. The toasted almonds add yet another layer of deliciousness, as well as a nice crunch.
- 1/2 cup seitan, extra firm tofu cutlet (such as this one I love from House Foods), or other vegan protein of your choice, cut into small cubes. You can also sub in a comparable amount of chickpeas.
- 1 tablespoon vegan mayo
- 2 tablespoons raisins, halved grapes, or diced fruit of your choice
- 2 tablespoons toasted sliced or chopped almonds
- A few shakes of curry powder
- Two pieces bread, toasted
Mix first five ingredients together and pile on toasted bread. It’s that simple.
Bahn Mi Chay: A perfect amalgamation of its Vietnamese and French roots, this sandwich is essentially a bright salad tucked in a pillowy bundle of bready goodness. The filling is tangy, spicy, sweet, salty, and unctuous, making it feel both hearty and fresh at the same time.
- 1/2 baguette, sliced open
- 1 tablespoon vegan mayo mixed with a squirt of sriracha or other spicy sauce
- About 4 ounces vegan protein of your choice, sliced and marinated for at least 15 minutes in a mixture of 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, a splash of sesame oil, and a few shakes of 5-spice, if you have it. Or, if you’re in a rush, use a half can of pre-made mock duck or a pre-marinated hunk of tofu.
- 1/4 cup shredded carrot, daikon, and/or sliced cucumber
- 1 handful cilantro and/or basil, chopped
- 1/2 jalapeño, thinly sliced (optional)
Slather bread with mayo and top with protein. Layer with remaining ingredients, and a drizzle of sriracha, if desired.
Readers, what are your favorite vegan sandwich fillings?