Tofu Club Sandwich
Photo: Mike Crooker

by Colleen Shea


I’m sick of taking peanut butter and jam sandwiches to school every day for lunch – please give me some new ideas!

One way to spice up that old classic is to try different nut butters and unusual jams. One of my favourite variations on the PB&J theme is to use almond butter and either strawberry-rhubarb jam, apple butter, or marmalade.

If you want to get away from all nut butters, however, there are still plenty of options.

The fastest option is to buy vegetarian deli slices (try either Tofurky or Yves). I’m a big fan of all the Tofurky flavours and like to add spinach, avocado, sprouts, Vegenaise (or other mayonnaiselike spread of your choice), and Dijon mustard to make a hearty sandwich.

Such deli slices can be pricy, and not everyone wants to increase the amount of processed foods in their diet. Beans and legumes make excellent alternative sandwich fillings. David and Rachelle Bronfman’s CalciYum! has several excellent dips that can also be used as spreads — the Hummus Bean Blend, the Liverless Liver Pate, and the Just Like Tuna Salad are all excellent.

But my absolute favourite in this book is the Spicy Bean Blend:

Spicy Bean Blend

2 cups cooked navy beans,
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil,
1 minced clove garlic,
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce,
¼ tsp cayenne pepper,
2 tbsp water,
1 tsp paprika.

Purée beans till smooth in a food processor then heat oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick pan; add garlic, cayenne, soy sauce, and salt and cook for 1 minute; then add the puréed beans and water, stir until well-mixed, and cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly; sprinkle the paprika on top before spreading on bread. Add some kale or other dark leafy green and you’re gold.

Many vegetarian and vegan cookbooks have recipes for not-tuna and not-egg sandwiches which use tofu as a base. One of my favourite tofu-based sandwiches is actually made from a side dish called Lemon-Herb Tofu in Dreena Burton’s Vive le Vegan!

Lemon-Herb Tofu
Combine in an 8″x8″ baking dish:

3 1/2 – 4 tbsp lemon juice,
2 tbsp tamari soy sauce,
2 – 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil,
1 1/2 tsp oregano,
1 tsp thyme,
1/2 tsp basil,
1/2 tsp honey or alternative (I use agave nectar),
few pinches black pepper,
one 350 g brick of extra firm tofu cut into 2-inch thick cubes.

Let marinate 10 minutes; bake at 375°F for 15 minutes and then flip over all the cubes and bake for another 15 minutes. (Note: Dreena’s recipe calls for 350 g of tofu but I actually use 454 g and there’s always enough sauce to marinate all the cubes).

For some variety beyond beans and tofu, check out the Carrot-Tahini Sandwich Filling from Sue Donaldson’s Foods That Don’t Bite Back:

Carrot-Tahini Sandwich Filling

4 finely grated medium carrots,
1/4 cup tahini,
2 tbsp vegan mayonnaise,
2 tbsp nutritional yeast,
2 tbsp diced green onions.

Like most sandwiches of the savoury variety, this one responds well to the addition of things like greens and sprouts.

If you’re concerned about eating processed foods like veg deli slices you’re perhaps also worried about processed spreads like Vegenaise, Nayonaise, or egg-based mayonnaise. Luckily, many of the cookbooks offering the delicious sandwiches described above also provide vegetarian mayonnaise recipes. Try Sarah Kramer’s recipe in La Dolce Vegan!

Vegan Mayonnaise
In a blender or food processor combine until smooth:

12 oz soft or silken tofu,
1 tsp dry mustard,
1/2 tsp onion powder,
1/2 tsp salt,
1 tbsp sugar,
2 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar,
1 tbsp cashews.

Of course, you may well wish to skip the mayonnaise aspect of the savoury sandwich completely — in which case, ripe avocado skinned and deseeded makes an excellent sandwich base: spread avocado on two slices of bread, then add sliced tomato and slices of fried smoked tofu. This sandwich is fast and very, very good!

 Vegetarian Sandwiches: Fresh Fillings for Slices, Pockets, Wraps, and Rolls

All of these spreads can, of course, be used to make sandwiches with either slices of sandwich bread, baguettes, or wraps. For more recipe ideas, check out any of the cookbooks mentioned above as well as Vegetarian Sandwiches: Fresh Fillings for Slices, Pockets, Wraps, and Rolls by Paulette Mitchell — they’re all for either loan or sale in TVA’s Resource Centre.