Review: Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day

It is very rare that a cookbook comes along that elicits the kind of excitement and bold punch of flavor that Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes has done.  For the longest time I read as blogger after blogger photographed gorgeous sandwiches and penned rave reviews, while I watched on with my mouth watering.  Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day moved higher and higher on my Christmas wish list.  And I waited eagerly for the time when I’d be making puff pastry pot pie sandwiches, tofu pomegranate pockets, and sauerkraut & tempeh-filled bierocks.  Then as luck would have it, I won a copy in a giveaway hosted by Olives for Dinner, and my wait time was cut short.

As soon as I flipped through all of the stunning recipes with loads of pictures, I felt an excited stirring in my stomach.  I wanted to make everything… now.  I never would have guessed that a book on something as basic as the sandwich could deliver so much flavor and creativity.  With 101 sandwiches from breakfast through dessert, these sandwiches are far from ordinary.  Here’s what I’ve made so far…

The first recipe I tried was the Chickpea Shawarma.  I would consider this recipe to be Indian/Mediterranean fusion, because the chickpeas are spiced with curry powder in addition to apple cider vinegar, fresh lemon juice, non-dairy yogurt, garlic, and onion powder.  (Hot curry powder from Penzey’s Spices is my favorite.)  The chickpeas are baked in the sauce until it’s mostly absorbed and then served in a pita or tortilla with lettuce and tomatoes.  (The smell of curry permeating the air made the house smell fantastic.)  It’s then topped with a creamy tahini and non-dairy yogurt dressing.

The recipe makes a lot of dressing, more than I thought I could use in a week…  But I was wrong, because the next day I generously offered to finish off the remaining chickpeas, only to have my husband ask if we could make more so that he could have some too.  So for breakfast, there we were having a full batch of chickpea shawarma all over again with more tahini sauce.  Then a few days later we were craving it anew, and I was only too happy to have the tahini sauce on hand, and with that, we finished it off.  So if you plan on making the shawarma once, you might want to halve the recipe, but then again, you might not!  I also want to add that David is generally not into sauces, especially ones made with yogurt, and he thought the sauce was the best part.  The cool, sour tang complements the spicy heat of the curried chickpeas.

Next I made the Carnitas Sandwiches.  The carnitas in this sandwich are made with jackfruit.  (Jackfruit always intrigues me, whether it’s in tacos, Nepali cuisine, or vegan crab cakes.)  The carnitas require some pre-planning, because the jackfruit cooks in a mixture of orange juice, tamari, hot sauce, and spices for an hour on the stove.  (Water is also added to cover the jackfruit, and I think I added a bit too much.  The directions say to cover the jackfruit by a couple of inches, but my shredded jackfruit just kept floating.  Next time I’ll err on the side of less rather than more, so that the flavor isn’t diffused.)

After an hour of cooking, the jackfruit marinates in the cooking liquid overnight.  Then it’s browned in a pan with shallots and garlic.  Next time I plan on browning the jackfruit in batches, because my pan was too overcrowded with the chilled jackfruit to brown properly.

The sandwich is topped with guacamole (or avocado in my case) and chili crème made with silken tofu, lime juice, and spices.  The sandwich was very tasty with a mixture of spicy hot and cool.

Finally, I harnessed my inner Elvis with Peanut Butter Banana Bacon Sandwiches.  The absolute standout in this sandwich is the chickpea bacon, made by broiling chickpeas in maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, smoked paprika, smoked sea salt, liquid smoke, and spices.  The chickpeas become smoky, sticky sweet and totally addictive.  I used less liquid smoke than the recipe indicated (I used ½ teaspoon), because my preferred brand of liquid smoke (Wright’s) is concentrated.  The chickpea bacon, peanut butter, and bananas made for an unusual twist on one of my favorite breakfasts.

Even when I’m not making this sandwich, I know that the chickpea bacon is going to be a recipe I turn to again and again for chef salads, BLT’s, and to put on potato soup or baked potato skins.  I had a hard time staying out of them in the refrigerator, because they taste so good on their own, by the handful.  I’ve already made the chickpea bacon a second time, and this time I made a double batch so that I can put them on everything with abandon.

Expect to see more on my blog about my cooking expeditions through Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day.  It’s an instant classic.

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24 thoughts on “Review: Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day

  1. yes! it is most totally an Instant Classic! I agree. That bacon chickpea sandwich has been on my mind ever since I first saw it, and I still haven’t made it. I think I’ll go get some chickpeas soaking right now.
    xo

    • I can’t wait to hear what you think of them! I’ve been putting them on everything. Last night they were a pizza topping with red bell pepper & onions. (If only I’d had pineapple too!) Highly recommended!

  2. Great review! Every time I decide that I will NOT buy any more cookbooks, I read a review that makes me want another one. There are several on my list and now I believe this one should be there too. The sandwich fillings sound very versatile, even if they don’t get made into traditional sandwiches.

    • I so know your pain! I keep telling myself that I don’t need more cookbooks, but then I read so many blogs and feel the pull for more. It’s funny, because we don’t watch regular television with commercials. Yet, I’m advertised to where I’m the weakest – in the vegan food area! :) Anyway, you really do NEED this cookbook! ;) There are 50 potentially gluten-free recipes in it, and like you said, you could easily use parts in other ways. In fact, the parts are so good that sometimes I don’t want the wonderful flavors and textures to get masked by bread anyway!

  3. everything looks SO GOOD, cadry. i desperately want to make the chickpea bacon. i’m planning on getting dayv this book for his birthday(in february). we finally found a gf bread that he really likes and he is constantly asking what kind of sandwiches i can make him..and i’m like, “besides grilled cheese…peanut butter and jelly?” haha..this book will be of great assistance to me ;)

    • Awesome! Dayv is going to love it! I’m completely hooked on that chickpea bacon. It makes everything better! :) Like I mentioned to Andrea, there are 50 potentially gluten-free recipes in the book, and I’m sure in lots of others you could use elements, even if you don’t put it in a sandwich per say.

      My David’s birthday is also in February, but I haven’t started gathering ideas yet. You’re ahead of the game!

    • Looks don’t lie! It is amazing! It’s been a long time since I’ve been this immediately won over by a cookbook. It’s one that if I’d checked it out of the library first, I only would have wished it was mine to scribble in! Pick up a copy, Becky! :)

  4. Argh. I decided this Christmas that I’d only buy one cook book. This one was in the running, but I decided to get something else. Now I really fancy this – particularly interested in the chickpea bacon. (Never been a huge fan of the soy stuff, but this is making me drool a bit!)

    • Which cookbook did you go with instead? It must have been hard to decide on just one! I received three cookbooks for Christmas (in addition to winning this one), and yet I’m still wishing I’d also received Kris Carr’s new book! There are just so many great looking books on the market!

      If you want to try the chickpea bacon right away, Celine posted the recipe on her blog. But I warn you, it’s only going to make you want the book more! :) http://havecakewilltravel.com/2012/10/09/pbbbsandwich/

    • I know! Who would have guessed it? I’ve been putting them in everything – salads, wraps, pizza, and just by the handful. I love those smoky & sweet flavors. I recommend making a double batch! :)

  5. i so am with you about this book. i rarely look up a cookbook, but this one is here to stay! i am planning on doing some sandwich tuesdays or something so i can make the recipes for the book! else i end up cooking non planned stuff everyday:) Great review and i am dying to make the shwarma!

    • Sandwich Tuesdays! What a good idea! Oh, yes, I can’t recommend the shawarma highly enough. That one is going into the regular rotation for sure.

  6. The chickpea bacon sounds incredible! I haven’t had success with jackfruit yet. I have a couple cans in my pantry. Maybe I need to give it another shot. This book sounds like a must have. Congrats on the win! :)

    • Thanks, Somer! It was an exciting win. I’d been wanting that cookbook for a long time but couldn’t justify getting it with Christmas so close. I’m glad I didn’t have to wait any longer! :)

      What has been your issue with jackfruit? One thing I’ve noticed is that I have difficulty getting the tinny flavor out of it. Like you probably, I don’t eat much that comes from cans. So when I eat anything from a can, I really notice that metallic taste. However, when I’ve had jackfruit at restaurants, I don’t notice it. I really rinse the jackfruit ahead of time, and so I wonder if it’s something particular to the brand I’m buying. Or it might be that I’m the only person here in the frozen tundra of Iowa buying jackfruit, and so those cans have been there a while! ;)

  7. I received an amazong gift card for christmas this year, and wouldn’t you know that this was the first item to land in my shopping cart? I CAN NOT WAIT! Everything looks soooooo good! And sandwiches are one of my favorite food groups, so it seems to be a necessity. ;-)

  8. Mmmm, I love those Chickpea Shawarma’s, so much flavor! I really need to hunt down some more jackfruit so that I can try the carnitas. I was just trying to think of some new salad toppers, so thanks for the reminder about those bacon chickpeas, those would be a fantastic addition.

    • Yes, we are addicted to shawarma! We had dinner guests earlier this week, and I made the shawarma along with fried plantains and a cucumber salad. It was well received!

      The chickpea bacon is fabulous on salad! You’ll really like it. It reminds me of a healthy take on old school Cobb.

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