Vegetable Sandwich Adventures: Part 1

What do you mean you don't eat bread? Sound familiar? I have more or less abandoned bread. ...


What do you mean you don't eat bread?

Sound familiar? I have more or less abandoned bread. The less being that I occasionally make myself some healthy gluten-free bread, but most of the time I just can't be bothered. Why? Well, most gluten free bread on the market...sucks. Sucks a lot. Like wow.

I am and have always been a bread lover. I used to save my money for artisanal loaves from small bakeries wherever I was living (Toronto, Edinburgh, London...). I'd eat bread with almost every meal...every day. It was love. Until it wasn't. Bread and me have a twisted relationship now thanks to my gluten-intolerance. Once I realized I had to stop eating wheat I didn't know what to do about my bread obsession. I tried a few commercial gluten-free breads but they were dry, bland and as dense a brick. They were also full of what I consider questionable ingredients like gums, stabilizers and cornstarch or tapioca starch. These ingredients always upset my stomach so I generally steer clear. I tried making my own bread and had some good results but more for cakey breads like soda breads. I admit, I haven't tried to make a yeasted gluten-free loaf yet, but I'm sure I will this year.


Sandwiches were a childhood favourite for me.When I was eight I started making my own lunch at home with friends and I dabbled in fancy sandwiches. I would make pretty intense stacks of meat, cheese, tomatoes, mayo and on and on... Sometimes they were simply cucumber, tomato, salt and mayo.  As a teenager my Dad and I bonded over our love of sandwiches. We would go out for lunch in search of the best we could find. In short, I LOVED good sandwiches with perfectly toasted bread slices. 

A few weeks back I was browsing for food online and came across someone using a large zucchini to make "bread" slices for a sandwich. The idea seemed so genius to me! They cut their oversized zucchini into two flat rectangles and made a rectangular sandwich with some tomato and cucumber. Enter my weird brain. As I reflected on what I saw I thought, "Why make a flat sandwich when you can make a dome to squeeze in even more fillings?!" So that's just what I did, and it was glorious.


Rather than a flat sandwich, I think of my Vegetable Sandwiches as Hoagies. You know, subs. They are long and narrow with a domed top. The top and bottom piece of bread is gutted by hand after baking to accommodate lots of fillings and keep things in place while you eat.


Unlike the sandwich I saw online, I decided to step up my fillings game. I wanted more than just raw veg and dressing (this isn't a salad!), I wanted "meat", "cheese", a spread or two and some crisp raw veg. But I also wanted to keep my sandwich totally vegan.


For the "meat" layer I made two types of "cold cuts". The first is Carrot Meat, the second is Beet Meat! Once sandwiched, its eery how real these vegan soy-free "cold cuts" look. For cheese I made "Yam Cheese Slices". These taste more like yams than cheese but they look a little like the white cheese slices you get at Mr. Sub or Subway. I made an avocado spread for creaminess and also added some soy-free vegenaise for tang and a mayo taste. For fresh veg I opted for sliced tomato, sliced cucumber and some finely chopped swiss chard (lettuce). 


These Vegetable Sandwiches were so good and you don't need to feel guilty at all about eating all 4 by yourself! I recommend them highly for kids who don't like vegetables.

So, you don't eat bread? What about sandwiches? :)

PS: This is just part 1. There are more crazy vegetable sandwich creations to come!


VEGETABLE SANDWICHES

ZUCCHINI BREAD:
  • 2 jumbo size zucchinis

Peel your zucchinis. Slice them in half lengthwise. Select the slice you want to be the bottom half of your sandwich and slice a little off the round side to make it sit flat. Grab a sharp spoon. Scrape out (gently) the soft seedy center flesh of the zucchini (from the original flat side of the pieces to make a divet so extra fillings can fit in between the slices.) Match top piece of "bread" with bottom and then divide into two "buns". (widthwise) Set aside.

AVOCADO SPREAD:
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tsp evoo
  • pinch pink salt
  • fresh black pepper or chili pepper
  • Small squeeze of lemon or lime juice (optional)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • dash garlic powder or cumin
Mash all ingredients together until very smooth. Refrigerate.

CARROT AND BEET MEAT:
  • 2 carrots (yellow or white or red), peeled then sliced thinly lengthwise with a cheese slicer or mandolin
  • 2 beets (red or chiogga), peeled then sliced thinly lengthwise with a cheese slicer or mandolin
  • 2 tsp evoo
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add your beet slices with half the seasonings and toss to coat. Spread out evenly. 

Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper. Add your carrot slices with half the seasonings and toss to coat. Spread out evenly.

Bake together with the CHEESE (see below) until the slices are bendy and cooked but not browned (10 minutes or less). Remove from the oven. 

YAM CHEESE:
  • 1 japanese yam (purple outside, white inside), peeled then sliced thinly lengthwise with a cheese slicer or mandolin
  • pinch salt
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp evoo (optional) 
  • 1 tbsp nooch or miso paste (I didn't use it but it will make the cheese taste more cheesy)
Line a third baking sheet with parchment paper. Add your yam slices and seasonings and toss to coat. Bake together with the "Meat" until the slices are bendy and cooked but not browned (15 minutes or less). Remove from the oven. 


ASSEMBLY:
  • tomato slices
  • cucumber slices
  • lettuce or chard
  • vegan mayo
  • avocado spread
  • Yam "cheese"
  • Carrot and Beet "meat"
  • Zucchini "bread"
  • OPTIONAL: hot sauce or a vegan tapenade you enjoy for extra flavour (like olive paste or sundried tomato pesto or basil pesto) 
Spread some of your avocado spread and mayo on both slices of your zucchini "buns". Top the bottoms with equal quantities of your Carrot and Beet "meat", and Yam "cheese". Top with cucumber, lettuce and tomato and a drizzle of your tapenade if using. Close your sandwiches and enjoy!

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