Creamy Pesto and Vegetable Sandwich

By the Gracious Vegan

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These sandwiches are great for picnics or just a nice meal at home. The creamy pesto spread makes people curious -- "What's in this? It's delicious." You can customize the rest based on taste and what you have in the house.

Makes 8 sandwiches

Creamy pesto spread. Put the almonds in the blender or other container. Pour in enough water so that the water line is at least 2 inches above the almonds. Let them soak an hour or more.

  • 2 cups blanched almonds (whole or slivered)

Drain and rinse the almonds in a colander and put them back into the blender. Add the following ingredients and blend until smooth. Add extra water a tablespoon at a time if the spread is too thick. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

  • ¾ cup water

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, tightly packed

  • 2 medium cloves garlic, cut into a few pieces

  • 1.5 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

  • Zest and juice of one medium lemon

The vegetables. Use a peeler, grater, mandolin, or knife to finely julienne, grate or thinly slice the vegetables. (Choose from the following or use your imagination.) 

  • Carrot

  • Beet

  • Cucumber

  • Tomato

  • Red cabbage

  • Red onion

Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and skin, and slice into thin wedges. 

  • 1 avocado

To assemble, take a slice of bread or a roll, smear an eighth of the spread on it, and layer on the vegetables, avocado, sprouts/spinach, salt and pepper. Wrap the sandwiches in parchment or wax paper if you’re transporting them. Or eat immediately.

  • 16 slices of good quality bread, toasted, or 8 rolls (or use tortillas for wraps)

  • Fresh sprouts or baby spinach (optional)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Variations for the vegetable filling:

  • Roasted red peppers or sundried tomatoes, Greek olives, artichoke hearts

  • Leftover roasted vegetables

Nutrition: whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Timing: About 75 minutes

Gluten-free if you use gluten-free bread

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Banh Mi Sandwich with Seitan

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I developed this recipe for a recent "Tempeh and Seitan" demo for Northwest Veg here in Portland. You could switch out the seitan with tempeh or tofu. “Banh mi” is the Vietnamese term for “bread,” specifically a baguette-type roll that is a basic staple in Vietnam. There was a French presence in Vietnam for hundreds of years, leading to this fusion bread. The Vietnamese version has a thinner crust and contains rice flour as well as wheat. The well-known sandwich that you can get from food carts and take-out places gets its name from the bread it's built on.

Here are the layers, starting from the bottom:

  • 6-7” Banh mi bread roll (or a section of baguette or other roll), split lengthwise (but leave them connected)

  • A swipe of sriracha mayo on top and bottom sides of the roll (2 or 3 parts vegan mayo to 1 part sriracha)

  • Thinly-sliced jalapeño, optional

  • Fresh chopped cilantro leaves

  • Thin slices of English cucumber (made with a peeler, mandoline or knife)

  • A handful of pickled carrot and daikon radish (see recipe below)

  • A layer of Seitan for Banh Mi (see recipe below)

  • More sriracha on top, if desired

Pickled vegetables (enough for 4 sandwiches). These can be made up to several days ahead (in fact, that improves the flavor).

Pour the pickling ingredients into a glass or plastic container with a lid. Shake or stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.

  • 1.5 cups water­, warm enough to dissolve the salt and sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • ½ Tablespoon salt

Add vegetables. Add more water if needed to cover them. Secure the lid. Refrigerate until ready to use. It's best to give them several hours, if not a couple of days, to pickle them. 

  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienned/grated/thinly sliced

  • ½ daikon radish, peeled and julienned/grated/thinly sliced

Seitan for Banh Mi (enough for 4 sandwiches)In a shallow dish or a Ziplock gallon bag, mix the marinade ingredients together.

  • 2 Tablespoons lemongrass, finely chopped (from frozen is fine)

  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons water

  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced or chopped

  • 1.5 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon roasted sesame paste or tahini

  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Add the slices of seitan and let them marinate for at least 20 minutes (preferably several hours).

  • 8 ounces seitan, sliced into thin slices

A few minutes before assembling your sandwiches, heat a large skillet on the stove. Pour the seitan and all the marinade into the skillet and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the marinade is mostly absorbed, anywhere from, say, 3 to 10 minutes. 

Timing: About 2 hours, including soaking. Hands-on time is much less, about 30 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO

Not gluten-free unless you substitute tofu or tempeh for the seitan and use gluten-free bread

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Gracious Vegan Muffaletta Olive Salad

By the Gracious Vegan

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I remember the first time I tasted a muffaletta sandwich. It was at the New Orleans Jazz Festival a few years ago. They looked surprised when I asked them to leave off the meat and cheese--I just wanted to olive salad. I adore Greek olives and I can't get enough of tapenade, a spreadable paste made with olives, so I was sure I would like this sandwich topping with the quirky name. With muffaletta, celery and caper flavors pop out on top of the briny base of olives, shallots, and red peppers. All my senses were more than pleased that afternoon.

You could make a muffaletta sandwich with this olive salad and vegan cheese (like Chao, since its original flavor tastes a lot like provolone cheese). Or you could use a hummus base, like the open-faced sandwich pictured here. Muffaletta would also be good with vegan cream cheese or with roasted vegetables. Of course you could use this for appetizers--serve with crackers or small slices of baguette. 

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and stir. It's ready to use on a sandwich or for appetizers. 

  • 1 cup pitted olives, roughly chopped (not California olives; a mix of black and green looks very pretty, but any Greek olive work here)

  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper, chopped (jarred is fine -- just rinse them)

  • 2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed, dried, and chopped

  • 1.5 Tablespoons minced celery

  • 1 Tablespoon minced shallots

  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • (optional) 2-3 Italian hot pickled peppers (such a pepperoncini), chopped

Timing: About 20 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed; WFPBNO


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Tex-Mex-Style Soft and Chewy Flour Tortillas

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GV comments: Not long ago I was an hour away from dinner and realized I'd forgotten to buy flour tortillas for my Gracious Vegan Vegetable Fajitas. Instead of making a round trip to the store, I decided to try out a recipe for homemade flour tortillas, which always taste better anyway. My internet search quickly surfaced a recipe from Serious Eats that sounded exactly what I was looking for--soft and chewy. I was amazed at how easy the recipe was. There's much more time letting the balls sit than there is hands-on time. Next time I'm going to try using half whole wheat pastry flour. Of course I used vegetable shortening (I use Spectrum brand) instead of lard. These are worth the small effort, and your friends and family will be impressed!

Timing: About 45 minutes, including the time the balls have to sit

Nutrition: If you use half whole wheat flour it will help. Otherwise it is mostly processed foods (flour and shortening).

I have not tried this with gluten-free flour.

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Baked Falafel with Tahini Sauce

By Mark Bittman

Link to Baked Falafel with Tahini Sauce recipe.

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GV comments: This recipe offers the best of two approaches. Authentic falafels are made with soaked but uncooked chickpeas, and Mr. Bittman reproduces that here. But authentic falafels are deep-fried, and I don't deep-fry at home for health and safety reasons (I almost started a kitchen fire once). The only downside to this recipe is that the chickpeas have to soak for 24 hours to get them nice and soft. But pre-planning is a small price to pay for this ingenious solution to homemade falafel. 

I prefer tahini sauce with lemon juice and garlic added, not just tahini and water. Mr. Bittman uses just tahini and water. 

Timing: 24 hours to soak the chickpeas, then about 15 minutes to prepare, then about 30 minutes in the oven. 

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed except for the oil.


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Mashed Chickpea Salad Sandwich

By Simple Veganista

Link to recipe here.

GV comments:  This dish is easy, inexpensive, fast, and nutritious.  Plus it can be gluten-free with the right choice of bread. It’s delicious, and there are   lots of options for customizing it to your tastes.  It's best when eaten fresh, so I don't recommend mixing a full batch and eating it for days: keep the ingredients stored separately or in groups, then mix fresh before you make the sandwich. 

Timing: Under 30 minutes

Nutrition: Whole-food unprocessed


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