Vegetarian sandwiches can be disappointing, especially when ordered from a meat-centric establishment. Too often, the default is a single oily portobello mushroom cap, with some raw sliced vegetables, and maybe a slice of cheese. Often there are sprouts.
If you’re trying to cut out meat, or simply eat more vegetables, building a good vegetarian sandwich might be slightly challenging, especially if you’ve never had any good, thoughtful vegetarian sandwiches to model yours after. Luckily, the sandwich lovers at Eater asked a couple of sandwich experts — chef Peter Lemos of Wax Paper Company in Los Angeles and chef Andrew Magee of Martha Kensington in Philadelphia — for their tips and tricks for building truly delicious vegetarian sandwiches.
Both chefs shared several excellent sandwich-building tips, and offered multiple suggestions for spreads, pickles, and seasonings, but the thing that stuck out for me was the handy sandwich building formula that came towards the end of the article:
If you’re not feeling super creative, Magee has a simple formula for building a perfect vegetarian sandwich. It’s easy to remember: Add something punchy, like vinaigrette or pickles, something roasty, like charred carrots or roasted sweet potato, and something super-fresh, like crisp radish or zucchini. Using that method as your sandwich algorithm, you can pretty much make any ingredients into a killer vegetarian sandwich.
Combining punchy, roasty, and fresh ingredients will result in an engaging, balanced sandwich, and it sets you up well to use ingredients you may not have considered to be traditional sandwich filler. Last night’s roasted vegetables are an obvious choice, but something like a starchy sweet potato might have evaded your notice before.
I only have one edit to the above formula, and that is the addition of something fatty, especially if your roasted element is lean and green. Some avocado, a healthy swipe of veganaise, a bit of hummus, or even a drizzle of olive oil can help your sandwich feel a little more grounded and filling. (And yes, you can get a little cheese involved, if you must. Just don’t use it as a crutch.)