Hello, friends! I want to start this post off by taking a virtual bow and expressing my gratitude to you. Throughout the month of November, my cookbook journey manifested into an absolute whirlwind. Each time one of you sent me a snapshot of my book at your local library or Barnes & Noble, or of a recipe you recreated from it, was a pinch-me moment. It has been magical to watch Friendsgiving live out a life of its own – in the press and in your homes – reaching everywhere from Connecticut and Ohio to Montana and Georgia, places I’ve barely even visited myself. It’s kind of like that scene from Amélie where she steals her father’s garden gnome and then the gnome mails the father Polaroids of itself posing near various landmarks of the world. (Note to self: rewatch Amélie). So anyway, thank you for making this experience that much more special. I’ve got enough warm fuzzies to keep me grateful for a lifetime. [Insert many, many red heart emojis!]
I spent Thanksgiving at home in NYC, which actually turned into a weeklong celebration. I was lucky to attend a record four Thanksgivings – two Friendsgivings and two dinners back-to-back on Thursday. The week at home also included stops at some of my favorite restaurants, like Buvette for a midday Lillet on the rocks; Rosemary’s for Rene’s belated birthday celebration and my favorite taleggio focaccia; Brennan and Carr for roast beef and cheese fries; plus all the deliciousness of my mom’s Eastern European cooking at home.
Pretty much every meal last week ended with grunts and the unbuttoning of pants.
Although I am a firm believer in indulging in the bounty of the winter holidays, for now I’m trying to slow my roll and get back on the plant-based whole foods train before the next round of celebrations is here.
For this week’s recipe I wanted to share something easy, light, and nutritious that anyone can make on a busy weeknight (I think we’ve all had enough lengthy cooking projects for this month, amiright?). So, I decided to elevate the ultimate lazy person dinner: the sandwich.
You know what’s the worst? When you go into a sandwich shop and the only meatless option is hummus with cucumbers, mealy tomato, and limp lettuce. We’ve all been there, no? I mean, there is an infinite amount of things to pile between two pieces of bread – how did hummus with cold vegetables earn the throne? Another common scenario: when the only vegetarian option houses a big hunk of cheese as a main ingredient, totally missing the point of offering a lighter option.
I may be biased, but it seems this recipe proves a great vegan sandwich is possible, and that it doesn’t have to be just a “vegan sandwich”, but a great sandwich in itself. The key is to strike the right balance of textures – in this case crusty toasted baguette, creamy roasted sweet potato, crunchy cucumbers, and cooling vegan mayo. Another key is to remember the protein – in this case mashed black beans and tofu as the base of this vegan “mayo.”
Traditional mayo is an emulsion of egg yolk, lemon juice, and oil. Some vegan versions are made with just lemon juice, oil, and chemical stabilizers, which mimic the creaminess of regular mayo. Others are made with aquafaba (the liquid from canned chickpeas), which according to the interwebs works well, but aquafaba still freaks me out… (I can’t stand the smell). The vegan spicy mayo in this sweet potato sandwich features tofu as the main ingredient. It’s a trick I learned thanks to my work at Natural Gourmet Institute and it is absolutely genius.
The vegan mayo and sweet potatoes may be refrigerated for up to 5 days so you can have most of this sandwich prepped in advance for quick weeknight dinners or work lunches. If you don’t like cilantro, use basil or parsley instead. If using canned beans, look for ‘low sodium’ on the label. (This vegan mayo recipe is adapted from the Natural Gourmet Institute).
For the Sweet Potatoes and Assembly:
- 2 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed and patted dry
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 whole wheat baguette, cut into quarters and sliced lengthwise
- 1 cup cooked black beans, mashed with a fork
- ¼ English cucumber, partially peeled and sliced into thin rounds
- 2 generous handfuls of cilantro leaves
For the Vegan Spicy Mayo:
- 8 ounces organic silken tofu (½ block)
- 1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons cold-pressed organic canola oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Roast the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Trim the ends of the sweet potatoes and slice each one into ⅓”-thick planks. Place the planks on the prepared baking sheet. Add oil, cumin, paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until they can be pierced easily.
- Meanwhile, make the vegan mayo. In a blender, combine the tofu, garlic, oil, lemon juice, hot sauce, mustard, and salt and puree until creamy. Taste and season with more lemon juice or salt if needed. (Leftover mayo can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.)
- Place the sliced baguette on a separate baking sheet and warm in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes.
- To assemble, spread the mashed beans on the bottom halves on the baguette. Top with sweet potato, cucumber, mayo, and cilantro.
- Serving Size: 1 sandwich
- Calories: 305
- Fiber: 7.4 g
- Protein: 9.3 g
- Cholesterol: 0 g