Excellent Vegetarian Sandwich Ideas
Go beyond the meaty fillings.
Sandwiches are a well-loved quick meal option for good reason — bread plus a few fillings and condiments add up to an easy-yet-satisfying lunch (or dinner!) — but sandwich fatigue can set in quickly. You might think that this rings especially true for vegetarians but there are actually heaps of great filling ideas for meatless sandwich fans.
With a little creativity and ingenuity (hint: Start by raiding your pantry!), you’ll have a new line-up of simple and delicious vegetarian sandwiches at your fingertips, which we’re willing to bet will impress even the staunchest meat-lovers.
Meat-Free Pantry-Based Sandwich Ideas
Fresh sandwich inspiration can be found right in your pantry. Take chickpeas, for instance. The protein-packed legumes are supremely satiating and they’re so easy to prep — just mash ’em up or lightly crush with the back of a fork. You could combine with a little lemon and olive oil, then pile on toast and call it lunch, sprucing it with fresh herbs or cheese crumbles if you have them.
For some composed chickpea sandwich creations, try Trisha Yearwood’s healthy Chickpea Salad Sandwiches. Pita pockets are stuffed with a creamy concoction of mashed chickpeas and avocado dressed with a mayo-mustard mixture, then festooned with sliced radishes, sprouts and shredded lettuce. The Smashed Chickpea and Eggplant Pressed Sandwich takes a little prep and assembly work, but the resulting sandwich reads like the vegetarian mezze platter of your dreams: ciabatta layered with chickpeas, hummus and roasted eggplant, plus carrots, cukes and red onion for crunch.
Marinated artichoke hearts are another all-star pantry ingredient. For his Grilled Artichoke Sub, Jeff Mauro grills jarred marinated artichoke hearts till just-charred, then arranges them on a baguette schmeared with roasted garlic ricotta. Grilled Spinach-Artichoke Sandwiches (pictured) are inspired by the classic dip combo — sauteed onions, artichoke hearts and baby spinach are bound together with a mayo-Asiago-goat cheese mixture. Mounding everything onto sliced bread and grilling it till gooey makes it next-level.
Roasted red peppers are fairly simple to make, but it’s even easier to grab them from a jar. Regardless of how you come by them, follow Ina’s lead and layer them with goat cheese and fresh basil on ciabatta, as she does with her Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Sandwiches recipe, or pair with shredded sharp white cheddar and mayo for a deconstructed take on pimento cheese.
For the ultimate pantry picnic sandwich, opt for this fiber-packed Healthy Vegetarian Pan Bagnat (pictured up top), which calls for artichoke hearts, black olives, roasted red peppers, plus a medley of fresh veg (use whatever you have on hand), all piled onto a hard roll (ciabatta or baguette works too). The longer the sandwich sits and soaks up all those juices and oils, the tastier it’ll be.
Saucy Vegetarian Sandwich Upgrades
Prepared sauces like pesto or marinara give sandwiches a flavor boost and are a thrifty way to finish up those half-used jars. Giada De Laurentiis’ pesto-slicked Grilled Vegetable Panini is chockful of grilled zucchini, eggplant and onions, making the case for batch cooking the next time you fire up the grill. Ree Drummond takes inspiration from a classic Caprese salad, piling thick slices of mozzarella and tomatoes onto ciabatta rolls and pulling in pesto instead of fresh basil to create her Tomato, Mozzarella and Pesto Sandwiches. Each side of the roll is generously slathered with pesto, and using a prepared version means it comes together in just minutes.
You could easily swap in pre-made marinara in Giada’s Italian Egg Sandwich, where garlic-rubbed toast is spread with a layer of tomato sauce before being crowned with a sunny-side up egg. For her Eggplant Parmesan Hero recipe, Amanda Frietag uses warmed-up marinara to anchor layers of mozzarella and fried eggplant between bread, yielding an irresistible hand-held take on a vegetarian classic.
Spread It On Thick
Hummus is a vegetarian sandwich power player, combining the filling and spread components into one nutrition-packed ingredient. Try Ree’s Heavenly Hummus Wrap; the recipe includes steps for making homemade hummus, but store-bought works just as well to complement the fabulous veggie medley of roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts and feta crumbles.
Ellie Krieger counts on hummus to bolster this Hummus and Grilled Vegetable Wrap (pictured) with protein and a dose of creamy texture. Try switching things up with different prepared hummus flavors, like roasted red pepper or roasted garlic.
Cream cheese may be an obvious choice at breakfast, but it can go beyond bagel sandwiches. Draw inspiration from tea parties and combine the creamy spread with cucumbers and fresh herbs, tomatoes or sliced, pre-steamed beets. One to bookmark is Melissa d’Arabian’s elegant Cucumber and Lemony Dill Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches. Cream cheese also brings extra melty goodness to grilled cheese sandwiches or you can use it in place of mayo or goat cheese in your next veggie wrap.
Grow Up Your Grilled Cheese
We’re not knocking the pleasures of a simple grilled cheese, but experimenting with different cheeses and adding in veggies can vastly improve your sandwich game. Case in point: Jeff’s Cauliflower Melt. Roasted cauliflower, pear slices and melty cheese add up to what he calls the world’s greatest veggie sandwich.
Roasted poblanos and melted cheese, the foundation of chile relleno, are reimagined in sandwich form in this craveable Roasted Poblano and Mushroom Grilled Cheese (pictured). Speaking of clever mash-ups, soup-and-a-sandwich never looked as good as it does in this French Onion Grilled Cheese sandwich hybrid. Sauteeing diced onions with onion powder means you get a caramelized effect in way less time — just add cheese (Cheddar and Swiss, thank you) and grill till golden.
No veggies on hand? Fall back on fruit! These Cheddar and Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwiches work with different varieties of apples and cheddar, but tart Granny Smith apples and sharp Cheddar make for a particularly sophisticated duet. And you don’t need even fresh fruit for these Strawberry Almond and Brie Grilled Sandwiches; strawberry jam acts as a sweet foil to the creamy, ripe cheese. Dream up your own riffs by following the fruit preserves plus sliced nuts plus soft cheese formula. The cinnamon raisin bread is optional, but highly recommended.
Chef Name: Food Network KitchenFull Recipe Name: Grilled Shitake and Tofu Bahn MiTalent Recipe: FNK Recipe: Food Network Kitchenâs Grilled Shitake and Tofu Bahn Mi, as seen on Foodnetwork.comProject: Foodnetwork.com, SUMMER/APPETIZERS/PASTAShow Name: Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network,Chef Name: Food Network Kitchen Full Recipe Name: Grilled Shitake and Tofu Bahn Mi Talent Recipe: FNK Recipe: Food Network Kitchen’s Grilled Shitake and Tofu Bahn Mi, as seen on Foodnetwork.com Project: Foodnetwork.com, SUMMER/APPETIZERS/PASTA Show Name: Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network,Chef Name: Food Network KitchenFull Recipe Name: Grilled Shitake and Tofu Bahn MiTalent Recipe: FNK Recipe: Food Network KitchenÃ¢ÂÂs Grilled Shitake and Tofu Bahn Mi, as seen on Foodnetwork.comProject: Foodnetwork.com, SUMMER/APPETIZERS/PASTAShow Name: Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network
Renee Comet, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved
Tofu-Based Sandwich Ideas
Tofu is often relegated to stir-fries, but it makes a satisfying swap in sandwiches that typically showcase meat. Thanks to thinly sliced ready-to-eat smoked tofu, you won’t miss the deli cuts (nor the bacon) in this Veggie Lover's Club Sandwich. Plus, the medley of veggies — bell peppers, cucumbers, red onions and a creamy avocado spread — makes it a visual showstopper too. (If you don’t have tofu on hand, smoked mozzarella works well, too.)
Banh Mi, a traditional Vietnamese sandwich, is typically loaded with meat, but this Grilled Shiitake and Tofu Banh Mi (pictured) is an excellent vegetarian take. The recipe smartly employs a duo of marinated-then-grilled firm tofu and mushrooms instead, but still calls for typical toppings like a tangy carrot-cucumber salad and spicy mayo.
Baked tofu stands in for sausage in these Tofu Subs with Onions and Peppers, then gets finished with peppery arugula and Parmesan shavings. (This sandwich is also a great use for jarred marinara sauce.)
Put an Egg on (or in) It
Classic egg salad is a go-to vegetarian sandwich option but there are other sandwiches that benefit from hard-boiled eggs’ protein punch and the yolks’ smooth texture. For his rendition of Sabich (pictured), a traditional Israeli breakfast sandwich, Bobby Flay spreads pita pockets with hummus, piles in roasted eggplant slices, a cucumber-tomato salad and shredded cabbage, then crowns the lot with slices of boiled egg.
Ellie’s L.O.V.E. Wrap Sandwich — that’s Lettuce, Onion, Vegetable, Egg Salad — ups the ante on egg salad by wrapping it up with romaine, red onions and bell peppers in this healthy grab-and-go lunch option.