Welcome to the veggie sandwich that is going to change your life.
Bold statement. So true.
This sandwich was inspired by one I ate a few weeks ago while in Truckee, CA. It was from the cutest ever natural foods store—New Mood Natural Foods—that also had an outstanding sandwich shop tucked inside. We ate their twice in 2 1/2 days and everyone raved. I actually scored two sandwiches since gluten-free bread is so small. This equaled about 1 1/2 normal sandwiches, of which I ate the entire thing both times. There was no stopping me.
There are a few key components to this sandwich that you are not allowed to skip. If you skip them I will hunt you down and tell you to make it again! Yes, this sandwich has rules.
RULES FOR THE SANDWICH DREAMS ARE MADE OF:
- toast your bread, just slightly
- p e s t o – seriously do.not.skip.
- balsamic glaze – you want the thick stuff –make your own or buy it
- grilled vegetables – and stack them high! okay, roasting works too
- do not use a super hearty bread – this thing is already a mess, so use something on the softer side
- it’s not right unless it’s dripping everywhere and you have to use 5 napkins
- slather it on – now is not the time to go all light on the pesto + balsamic
But despite the rules, you really have a lot of leeway with this sandwich—of your dreams.
How so? Glad you asked.
- It can be eaten hot or cold. You can grill the veggies, let them cool to room temp, and then chill them before stacking on your sandwich.
- You can use your favorite pesto. My current pesto obsession is from last week. I’ve made it three times since and have used it every single day. It’s also vegan! You will not miss the parmesan one bit. Promise. Chris used it in our breakfast yesterday and I about died.
- You have leeway with the vegetables. I recommend a mix of what you see below but you could do double zucchini if eggplant isn’t your thing. You can also add things like sun-dried or oven-roasted tomatoes. The peppers are good, but not mandatory. The portabella and zucchini are pretty important, but you could probably get away with one or the other.
- You can make this for 1 person or 10! If you’re making it for a crowd keep your oven at about 200* and keep piling the grilled veggies onto a large baking sheet. Your veggies will stay warm until you’re all done with the grill.
If you don’t make a complete mess while eating this sandwich you’ve done something terribly wrong.
Let’s dig in.
The Ultimate Veggie Sandwich
gluten-free, vegan // yields 2 sandwiches
- 2 small zucchini
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 large portabella
- 1 bell pepper
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup pesto
- 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze/reduction
- 4 slices of bread
- salt + pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons oil, I used high-heat avocado oil
Trim ends from zucchini and eggplant. Cut each zucchini in half [not end to end] and slice into 1/4-inch thick slabs. Slice eggplant into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Place on a large cutting board or baking sheet in a single layer. Generously sprinkle each slice with salt and let sit for 15-20 minutes.
While waiting, preheat your grill to 375-400* F [med/med-high]. Place a kitchen towel over the veggies and press down firmly to soak up the moisture. Place zucchini and eggplant in a large bowl and swirl in enough oil to lightly coat. Toss to distribute. Lightly oil the portabella and the pepper and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place vegetables on the grill in a single layer. Turn the pepper every 3-4 minutes for about 4 turns. Let other veggies cook about 4-6 minutes per side, turning twice. Once grilled to your liking place on a tray and bring inside. Lightly grill your bread for about 1 minute per side. Slice the pepper [letting liquid drain] and the portabella.
To assemble: Spread pesto on all 4 faces of the bread. Layer the vegetables, add a few pinches of salt and pepper, and add a bit of the balsamic as you layer. Top with remaining balsamic and bread. Serve immediately.
notes: The vegetables salting step can be skipped, however, it helps bring out a lot of the moisture in the zucchini and eggplant which helps tremendously with the texture. You can roast the vegetables in your oven at 400* F. They will probably take about 8-12 minutes per side [the hot grill grates cook the vegetables faster].
To make a balsamic reduction: Place 2 cups of balsamic vinegar in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces by half (or more, if thicker consistency is desired), about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Keep in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to two weeks. Or, buy this. We’ve been using it for years on our salads and love it.