Cookbook Review: Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day!

asian eggplant sandwich

Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day! by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes is a cookbook I flip through often. The recipes sound fabulous and the photos are great. I just wanna pick the crispy bits of seitan off the page!

But I have to confess I’ve done this book a great disservice. See, even though I looked through it a lot, I decided the recipes were a little in the too-hard basket because quite a few of the recipes require you make other recipes first. So I would put the book away and always mean to make something “when I have more time”.

What an error that was! After enjoying some sandwiches at True North in Coburg recently, I was determined to get this book out and make at least a handful of recipes. I’m so glad I did! I also realised that it was hardly as time consuming as I previously thought!

My first sandwich was the French Tofu Salad with Grapes. Pan fried pieces of tofu are then tossed in a kind of thick dressing with vegan mayonnaise (I didn’t have any and used a soy cream cheese instead which worked fine), onion, celery, white wine vinegar, toasted slivered almonds, chives, Dijon mustard, thyme, parsley, dried tarragon and dried herbes de Provence (which I didn’t have). Served over some baby spinach on my last piece of (toasted) fancy bread, this was fantastic. As for the grapes… I didn’t have any and wouldn’t have put them in anyway. The recipe variation notes say you can use some minced apple. I had some applesauce in the fridge so I mixed that up with the cream cheese, so it was sort of mayonnaisey in the end:

French tofu salad sandwich

I had an eggplant that needed to be used up, so I went for the Asian Eggplant Sandwich. I only made half the recipe, so I could use the eggplant for another sandwich. This sandwich is another winner. The eggplant is pan fried in some sesame oil, garlic, ginger and sesame seeds. The sauce for the sandwich is made with tomato sauce (ketchup), tamari, rice vinegar, sambal oelek (I used a little chilli paste) and peanut butter. Sounds good, right?! I kept the salad part simple with undressed shredded carrot, lettuce greens and red onion (I left out the cabbage and rice vinegar). Vegan mayo on the bread, some coriander (cilantro) to garnish and then you go stuff your face. The sandwich has its lid on in the top photo up there:

asian eggplant sandwich

Some readers recommended I make the Chickpea Shawarma. This was another wow sandwich for me– chickpeas baked with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, vegan yoghurt, curry powder, onion powder and garlic. There’s a tahini based dressing and then you assemble it all with some tomatoes, greens and fresh parsley. I used toasted Turkish pide rolls:

chickpea shawarma chickpea shawarma

The Almighty BLT was up next. Truthfully, I’ve never been a fan of tofu slabs in bread. This recipe calls for tempeh bacon (that recipe must be pre-made) but I turned it in to tofu bacon instead and it worked fine. This sandwich has a spread made with vegan sour cream (or yoghurt), vegan mayonnaise, capers, red pepper flakes, onion powder, garlic and sundried tomatoes. I toasted the Turkish pide rolls (they taste blergh untoasted) and added the tomato, red onion and salad greens. I didn’t have any avocado but I’d definitely try to use it next time. After this sandwich, I’m happy to have tofu slabs in a burger:

tofu bacon BLT sandwich

I made the Green Monster Bread– one of those recipes in the book that you can use for a number of the sandwiches, but I handed off to that too-hard basket. But there’s nothing hard about baking simple breads! This bread is made green by blitzing up some leafy greens (aragula or spinach in the book) along with other wet ingredients. Instead of a loaf I made rolls. Arthur loved it, I found it a little too sweet for a savoury kind of bread so next time I’d cut the 2Tbs of sugar down:

green monster bread

green monster bread

With my leftover raw eggplant, I made the Marinated Eggplant Sandwiches. I made the eggplant a little differently to the recipe, which calls for the eggplant to be prepared with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Cajun spice mix, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke. I marinated the eggplant in all that and pan fried it, which is different to the recipe, but I think it still turned out fine. The tofu is marinated with white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, nutritional yeast, onion powder and garlic. I don’t have white balsamic vinegar and used the ‘regular’ dark kind, crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. It turned out a little regular-balsamicy but still fine enough. I used one of the Green Monster Bread rolls spread with a little vegan mayo and salad greens:

marinated eggplant sandwich

I am so, so glad I decided to give this book a chance. Really, there’s nothing all that time consuming about the recipes I prepared. Make your tofu or eggplant or whatever then you have stuff in the fridge to use for your sandwiches. So for a little prep work, you have a few day’s worth of sandwiches readily available. You can see more examples of other sandwiches over at Where’s The Beef?

I did plan on making one or two of the seitan recipes but will get to that in the future. I also planned on making one of the many great looking sweet recipes but seeing as we’re still a little loaded up with Halloween treats, I want to avoid making any additional sweet treats for a long, long time  😉

So, to sum it all up, I love this book. It’s helped me rediscover a love of fancy sandwiches. Previously I’d just slap something mega boring together for a mega boring sandwich. But with some extra effort now, I can have mega fab sandwiches in a jiffy. And I’ll definitely be making the Green Monster Bread again!

Do you have Vegan Sandwiches Make The Day? Is it on your wish list?

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What I Ate (Recently…)

apple smoothie bowl

I really should rename this series to “What I Ate… this month or so”. I swear I try to get my What I Ate posts up every week. A lot of the time the stuff I make seems too heavy on the mega-boring to blog about (I don’t want to subject you guys to more green juice!), or it’s hard to take pics because I get feline interference, so the food slops everywhere while I’m trying to juggle camera and cute cats:

sweet potato curry

The smoothie bowl up the top there is a slightly modified version of the Golden Apple Smoothie Bowl from Fragrant Vanilla Cake. It seems I bookmark nearly every one of those recipes! I added some baby spinach to my smoothie for some green goodness and topped it with a Pura Veda muesli mix. Great recipe and one I see myself making a lot.

Husband likes the Beefy Asparagus Stir Fry from Isa Does It. I got everything ready then saw the asparagus had gone all the way to funky town. Next stop, compost town. So in place of asparagus (and anything mock-meaty) I used all the stir fry kinda veggies Husband eats plus toasted broken cashews (I never buy whole raw cashews. Broken raw cashes are much cheaper!)

veg stirfry

Since my happy Reuben sandwich experience at True North last week, I’m determined to get in to making fancy sandwiches. I have Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day! but have never made anything from it, though I love the photos and drool over everything. Here’s the French Tofu Salad with Grapes, minus the grapes. There were grape alternatives listed which suits me as grapes in anything other than fruit salad just isn’t my thing. This is a recipe I will make again and again, it was that good. Assuming I don’t go to the bread bin (again…) and discover I only have one piece of the fancy bread left then have to pretend it’s an open sandwich:

tofu french salad sandwich

A hazelnut milk smoothie with some usual smoothie suspect stuff thrown in like banana, protein powder, cacao and flax:

hazelnut smoothie

This was a spur of the moment creation. DeeW asked for spaghetti with pasta sauce, so I used a bottled basil oregano sauce. To my serving, I added sundried tomatoes, chilli flakes, olives, baby spinach and capers, all topped with vegan parmesan:

mixed up pasta

This is the Velvety Pumpkin Pie Smoothie from The Oh She Glows Cookbook. DeeW insisted Mario be in the picture, because this smoothie gives you a ONE UP. Or a POWER UP.  Works for me because I loved it:

pumpkin pie smoothie

More DeeW styling. The farfalle pasta is a simple walnut pesto, with more toasted walnuts on top. A snake with a FORKED TONGUE. Har harrr!

walnut pesto pasta

I found a jar of vegan laksa paste in the fridge. I really should clean the fridge more often… anyway, I fried up the paste with the tofu and veg, then added in some coconut milk, vegetable broth and thick rice noodles:

laksa paste noodles

I made this sweet potato and black bean curry based on the Isa Does It recipe. I made it a while ago and froze it. It made for a very welcome quick meal on an I-can’t-be-bothered-cooking day:

sweet potato curry

I’m feeling inspired in the kitchen this week and have a bit of an itch to make more fancy sandwiches. If you’ve made recipes from Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day! please leave a comment with some recommendations!