Looking for the perfect sandwich to take on your next summer road trip or picnic? Look no further than these Vegan Mediterranean Veggie Sandwiches with Pesto! Made with crusty ciabatta bread, slathered with organic vegan pesto, and loaded full of seasoned and spiced veggies – this sandwich is sure to make even the pickiest eater very happy!
I’ve been making these Mediterranean Veggie Sandwiches since I was allowed to touch a grill. I love the creaminess of the pesto against the crusty ciabatta bread, the smoky grilled vegetables cranked up with a little kick of chili powder, and the subtle aroma of garlic rubbed on grilled bread. I would always make more than one batch but somehow it would be all gone before I wanted it again the next day… So many memories!
If you’ve read my earth day post recently, you’ll know that all the recipes on R+R going forward are now vegetarian (if you haven’t you can read it here.). The trouble with vegetarian or vegan diet for many people who haven’t grown up that way, is that meals don’t seem filling. One of my favorite things about this veggie packed sandwich is that it can keep me full all day! Each sandwich is piled high with fiber, nutrients, healthy fats, and flavor – making it filling and nutritious. I also get my fill of vegetables, without ever having to eat a boring salad. That’s a win in my book!
It’s all in the Prep
Because I’m lazy and firing up the grill is a lot of effort for me, I try to make the most of my time grilling veggies for these sandwiches. Often, I’ll grill up extra veggies, store them in the fridge, and assemble the sandwich at work for lunch for the rest of the week! Take some time to think about where you’ll be eating these sandwiches. Going on a road trip? Pre-assemble the sandwiches and wrap them in parchment for an easy, on the go meal. Need to meal prep? Grill all the veggies and package them up and serve over rice or orzo to offset the sandwich days. The possibilities are endless.
The prep matters for these sandwiches so that they last for your road trip picnic or office lunch. I was able to find all the ingredients for my sandwich at my local Sprouts Farmers Market! First, be sure to choose quality vegetables that are firm, not soft from the get go. Fresh veggies will hold their shape better and won’t get mushy when grilled. Next, pick the right bread. A crusty bread like a ciabatta, will be able to hold the moisture from the pesto and the veggies. Avoid anything like white sandwich bread that will just turn into mush. Pick a quality pesto like Sprouts Organic Vegan Basil Pesto. Quality pesto is important as pesto can brown easily. Picking the best variety will keep your sandwiches looking fresh!
For my sandwiches, my go to veggies are eggplant, zucchini, and red bell peppers, but you can experiment with any other veggies you may have on hand. I’ve enjoyed grilled red onions, portobello mushrooms, and even kale on these sandwiches! You also don’t need a grill to enjoy these sandwiches year round – try grilling the veggies in a cast iron pan or on a cast iron grill plate (if you really want those marks)!
The Secret to Perfect Grill Marks…
There is something about grill marks that makes food taste so much more delicious! Perfecting the grill mark is a real skill but here are a few tips to help you get the perfect grill marks every time.
- Make it HOT. The grill, I mean. Make sure the grill or grill plate has come up to the temperature before putting the veggies on it.
- Save the salt for last. Salt will pull the moisture out of the veggies, and while this makes it quicker to get the grill marks, it can also leave your veggies dry. Salt and season the veggies after they’ve been grilled. This is especially important for the chili powder seasoning. It can burn and leave everyone within 20 feet hacking up a lung. Save the best for last!
- Use oil! There is nothing worse than waiting for the perfect grill marks and lifting up the eggplant for it to stick to the grate and fall apart. I like to lightly drizzle each vegetable with olive oil before it goes on the grill. You can even use a little olive oil mister to get the dose just right.
- Be patient. The easiest way to ruin the grill marks, or make them uneven, is to move the vegetables before they are ready. Look for the zucchini and eggplant to start changing color and look more translucent and the peppers to shrink a bit before flipping them over.
Believe it or not, there is a science to the sandwich assembly that will make your sandwiches last even longer.
- DO grill the bread. Don’t skip this step, it really makes the difference between a soggy sandwich and a delicious one! Grilling the bread (or toasting it) will dry it out slightly allowing it to soak up all the yummy goodness from the pesto and veggies.
- DO season your veggies. Salt and chili powder on the freshly grilled vegetables is all I need.
- DON’T skimp on the pesto. The pesto provides a “wall” of fat which keeps the bread from soaking in too much moisture from the veggies. Water and fat don’t mix, so the moisture stays away from your bread with the pesto acting as a delicious barrier.
- DO press your sandwich after assembly! This helps to pack all the ingredients inside and keeps the veggies from slipping out in transit.
Thank you Sprouts Farmers Market for sponsoring this post! While this post, itself, is sponsored – the recipe, tips and opinions expressed in this post are my own. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me here!