Quinoa. Chickpeas. Kale salad. These vegan staples are swell and all, but sometimes what you’re really craving is a hearty, toasty, and satisfying sandwich. Luckily, it’s very easy to prepare a vegan sandwich that’ll taste incredible and fill you up fast, all with very little fuss.
More: Meet sandwich's bold, one-slice cousin: the tartine.
As with most recipes, vegan sandwiches simply demand that you consider a new set of centerpieces. You can and should feel free to use your imagination, but here are some of my favorites:
- Tempeh and tofu. These are the most straightforward alternatives to meat or poultry in most sandwiches. Both absorb flavor well, so it’s wise to give them a good marinade before cooking. I like to bake tofu and tempeh before using them in sandwiches, since it creates a sturdy texture.
- Hummus. Hummus is practically a vegan food group already, but it’s particularly good in sandwiches. I like to use it in place of mayonnaise, or in roast vegetable paninis.
- Avocado. Avocado is another good ingredient to consider where you might otherwise use mayo; it’s got the same creamy mouthfeel and fattiness, but it also adds texture (and it’s mighty filling).
- Cashew cheese. I use cashew cheese wherever I might have used goat cheese, ricotta, or feta in non-vegan sandwiches of yore. I especially love it in the springtime, spread atop some crusty bread, dusted with freshly chopped herbs, and topped with some sprouts or cucumber slices.
- Grilled vegetables. I love to layer grilled or roasted vegetables -- like portobellos and eggplant -- with hummus and fresh basil leaves in the summer, or to pair roasted sweet potato slices and cashew cheese in the winter.
- Tahini (and other nut butters). You may be used to putting tahini only into your hummus (or your favorite tahini dressing), but it makes a really fantastic sandwich component. Try spreading it on top of roasted vegetables or drizzling it over fresh ones. Meanwhile, peanut and almond butter are perfect for sweeter breakfast sandwiches (like a good ‘ole peanut butter and banana).
The following sandwich is about as classic a vegan lunchtime creation as it gets. Smoky, salty, marinated, and baked tempeh meets hummus with a kick (thanks to smoked paprika). A sprinkle of pea shoots (or any other crunchy green) provides a perfectly fresh contrast to this hearty, filling meal.
Smoky Tempeh and Hummus Sandwiches
8 ounces tempeh
2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
8 slices of crusty, whole grain bread
1/4 cup hummus (see recipe below), or as much as you like
1 cup pea shoots
Hummus with Smoked Paprika
1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 clove garlic, minced
Water, as needed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Photos by James Ransom