Today I went to an event for work that included a catered lunch. It was a classic sandwich spread: turkey with lettuce and tomato on a sub roll, ham and cheese on swirled rye, a vegetable wrap, salad, chips, and cookies. I took a half of each the turkey and the vegetable wrap. The turkey sandwich was an assemblage of things that were in function a sandwich, but the individual ingredients were indistinguishable and mostly devoid of flavor.
I had higher hopes for the wrap, which turned out to be a swipe of hummus, a piece of lettuce, and then just a mass of shredded carrots studded with sliced black olives and red onion (far more olives than onions…so many olives). While I can say there was at least texture from the carrots, it struck me as exactly the vegetarian sandwich that a person who has never in their life eaten a vegetarian sandwich would make: Just put a bunch of vegetables in it! And hummus for protein! Vegetarians love hummus!!!
This is not 1998, and we have so many more interesting an innovative meatless sandwiches to entertain our taste buds. Here are a few of my favorites:
This beet and sweet potato sandwich with feta (pictured at top) has raw vegetables that are pickled, cooked vegetables, herbs, and salty feta which make for a riot of flavors and textures (that post also has tons of tips for building vegetarian sandwiches).
If we’re going to talk about the recipe I’ve made the most times in the past two years, it just might be this tofu shawarma. Taking tofu, squeezing it dry, and then crumbling, spicing, and roasting it was a revelation to me. The small irregular pieces leave a ton of surface area for crisping. The warmly spiced tofu with a creamy, garlicky yogurt sauce in warm pita with crisp vegetables is the dream I wish for every time I fall asleep. I often add in some other spices like turmeric or cumin, and serve it with whatever fresh and pickled vegetables I have around.
It is impossible to go wrong with burritos, and these burritos with black bean spread are a flash to put together (which I just use canned beans for).
I’m not actually against hummus wraps. Sure they are not the most interesting, but they do serve a great need of vegan, healthy, easily transported food (as you can see). But I like a mix of raw/cooked/and pickled vegetables, and another sauce for some punch (like pesto!). Sprouts make a great addition too.
If you’re not into hummus or just looking for something different, make these wraps with turmeric tahini sauce which have a great variety of ingredients, plus a zippy sauce to pull it all together.
Do you have a favorite vegetarian sandwich? Or another terrible vegetarian sandwich experience to share? Do tell!