There's no more pining; spring is officially here. While warmer weather may still be a bit elusive, there's no reason not to start the seasonal celebrations yum-style. And if picnic weather won't come to you…well then bring the picnic to wherever you are—be it still thawing out in front of a fireplace, huddled under an electric blanket, or (im)patiently waiting out the freeze in bulky sweaters and hats. How best to bring the picnic fun, you ask? Why, with vegan sandwiches, of course.
It only makes sense that the sandwich is the greatest invention since sliced bread. It's neat (usually), easy, and in most cases, scrumptiously delicious in the best possible ways: by combining many flavors in layered bite-after-bite of goodness.
Beyond our 4th grade staple PB&J, most other sandwiches tend to feature meat by the gobs. But a little creativity and a few ingredients are all it takes to make drool worthy sandwiches—picnic weather or not. While you can easily go for vegan mock meat deli slices, they're often loaded with undesirable amounts of sodium and soy. Need some spring vegan, veggie sandwich ideas? Here are a few favorites:
- The Mexerannean: I made this one up when there was little else in the fridge beyond hummus and salsa. But it soon became a staple. Spread hummus on 2 slices of whole grain bread. Top with a layer of salsa (green or red). Layer on greens (watercress is delicious here), sliced cucumber, sprouts, and grated carrots. Add more salsa if needed.
- Lentil-Walnut Pate and Apple: Apples (and pears) are on their way out for the season, so use them up in a spring sandwich recipe. (Here's a great lentil-walnut pate recipe.) Simply spread the pate on two slices of sourdough bread, top with thinly sliced apples (or pears), fresh arugula, and roasted red peppers. Give it all a light drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
- Cucumbers and Cashew Cheese: Cucumber sandwiches are pretty much the best things ever, with or without the crusts. The English do these at teatime with cream cheese and butter, but you can veganize it with a simple homemade lemony cashew cheese recipe. Layer thin slices of cucumber atop a hefty spread of cashew cheese on a rustic sourdough. Add a few fresh mint leaves, a good grind of pepper, and coarse salt. Pinkies up!
- Roasted Veggies: I often make this one in the fall for football season, but it works well in the spring, too. Use roasted eggplant, peppers, and mushrooms, or any other roasted veggies (carrots work surprisingly well). Roasting veggies brings out their sweetness, which pairs well with the spice of the mustard. Roast your veggies on a cookie tray in a light toss of olive oil at 400°F for about 20 minutes. Cut open a fresh baguette and generously apply Dijon mustard (but any mustard will do). Pile in your roasted veggies, some chopped romaine lettuce, and a bit of the cashew cheese from above if you made extra. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and add lots of fresh pepper.
- Sun-Dried Tomato and Chard with Tahini: Another concoction from my bare-too-often fridge, and now a long-standing favorite. Saute a bunch of rainbow or green chard in olive oil until soft but still bright green (about 5 minutes). Squeeze in the juice of one lemon and add about one teaspoon of soy sauce. Mix in ¼ teaspoon of crushed red chili pepper flakes (more if you like spicy), remove from heat and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together about ¼ cup of raw sesame tahini, juice of one lemon, and enough water to make it thin like a sauce or dressing (water amount will vary depending on tahini thickness. Start with less—a teaspoon or so at a time. Better too thick than too thin). On a crusty sourdough or multigrain bread—or in a whole grain tortilla—spread a generous amount of the tahini. Layer with sundried tomatoes (best when reconstituted in olive oil). Then heap on the chard, first draining off excess liquid. Best when chard is still slightly warm.
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