My sandwiches have attained a whole new level of gastronomic comfort and mouthwatering tendencies. With all the bread-baking ensuing since receiving my already tattered copy of Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread: Artisanal Recipes to Make at Home, a whole host of delectable sandwich creations—vegan capreses, TLTs with avocado, falafel and hummus sandwiches—have earned their place in my current lunch rotation, but only today did an epiphany strike my psyche upon realizing that I could employ my homemade bread in hot sandwich applications. Suddenly, a world of grilled cheeses, melts, and paninis (vegan, of course) revealed itself to me while I gazed in awe upon its sea of delicious, ooey-gooey, succulent potential.
I remain rather uncertain from where I drew the inspiration for my preliminary round of experimentation with hot-sandwich-crafting—perhaps the brussels sprout burrito at POCO discussed in Episode 155 of the Our Hen House podcast left more of an impression on me than I had originally thought, or perhaps my ardent adoration of roasted brussels sprouts simply predisposes me to utilize them in any and every possible application. In any case, I do know concretely that my first grilled cheese undertaking resulted in a dazzling mess of unctuous cashew cheese, chewy herbed focaccia, and smoky roasted brussels sprouts.
To recreate this tantalizing sandwich, you’ll need three components:
- Vegan Cheese: I opted to make the shredded cashew cheese featured on Stephanie Weaver’s fabulous blog, the Recipe Renovator, but I presume that this coconut milk cheddar would work just as well for those of you with nut allergies. If you’d prefer a less hands-on variation of this sandwich, I assume that Daiya would satisfy all of your melty grilled cheese pleasures, though I always choose to avoid processed foods.
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts: trim the sprouts’ stems; remove any tough or yellowing outer leaves; cut the sprouts in half; toss the sprouts with olive oil, taking care that the oil permeates the sprouts’ inner leaves; and pop them in a 400° oven for about 30 minutes, checking if they need a good stirring at the halfway mark. Voila—crisp and caramelized roasted sprout perfection every time.
- Bread: I employed the Focaccia Simple from Jennifer Katzinger’s “Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread” (as if I don’t rave about this book enough), which consists of a chia seed gel, teff flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot powder, brown rice flour, garbanzo bean flour, buckwheat flour, flaxseed meal, an Italian herb mix, yeast, olive oil, and maple syrup. However, unless you also harbor the immense pleasure of owning this book, feel free to use any other vegan bread—gluten-free or not, homemade or storebought, etc.—in the focaccia’s place.
I served this mindblowing sandwich alongside a salad (naturally) of mixed greens, various sprouts, and purple carrots, and envision that oodles more hot sandwich creations will follow my first endeavor with them. Perhaps I’ll look to some Pinterest boards for further inspiration?
Until next time, Ali.