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Vegan Sandwich Ideas: Pickles, Marinated Tofu, and More

As a newly confirmed vegan, I have found a few recipes that are excellent and make me feel great. I'd love to share my findings with you.

My sandwich with homemade bread and homemade pickles.

My sandwich with homemade bread and homemade pickles.

What to Put Inside a Vegan Sandwich?

I have been vegan for over one year now. I have found that I still like sandwiches, but I'm often at a loss as to what to put inside. Peanut butter and jelly is good, but sometimes I get a hankering for something different.

I love thinly sliced things for sandwiches and really hate the meatless alternative “patties” I have found in the vegan section of my store. I have gone on a personal search for thinly sliced ingredients to put inside a sandwich. Here are a few of my finds that have worked out very well indeed.

  1. Quick Carrot Pickles
  2. Pickled Red Onions
  3. Marinated Zucchini Discs
  4. Smoky Tofu Bacon Slices
  5. Watermelon Rind Preserves

And one bonus recipe: homemade whole wheat Italian sandwich rolls.

My pickled carrots in a sandwich.

My pickled carrots in a sandwich.

1. Quick Carrot Pickles

I tried cutting these as thin as possible with a knife and finally abandoned that for the ever-versatile potato peeler. The peeler gets the slices of carrot paper thin, which is perfect for a sandwich. The slices are kept in a pickling mixture in the refrigerator for just the right sandwich time.


  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Mix these ingredients together in a jar and add the thinly sliced carrot.
  2. It will be ready anytime you want that perfect sandwich.

2. Pickled Red Onions

These use the same mixture as the carrot pickles but are kept in a separate jar. I thinly slice a red onion, add it to the vinegar mixture, and place it in the refrigerator as well. The brine turns a beautiful purpled red from the onion. These onion slices are very crisp and flavorful.

Marinated zucchini discs on my sandwich.

Marinated zucchini discs on my sandwich.

3. Marinated Zucchini Discs

I find zucchini to be so versatile; it can be used in so many different dishes. In this case, I have started keeping a container of marinated zucchini discs in the fridge for sandwiches anytime.


  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


  1. Using a potato peeler, I slice thin discs of zucchini into my marinade and keep it in the fridge. I’m really not sure how long the zucchini can be kept this way as I always need more before one week is through.
  2. I usually only marinade half a zucchini at a time and keep the other half for other recipes or use it later when I run out of the first half of discs. These are great on a pizza also for a pepperoni look.
My smokey tofu bacon slices.

My smokey tofu bacon slices.

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4. Smoky Tofu Bacon Slices

  1. Using the same recipe as the marinade above, I add extra firm tofu sliced about 1/4-inch thick in a flat pan to marinade for about 15 minutes. The tofu absorbs the flavors you marinade it in, so if you want to experiment with other flavors, do feel free.
  2. These slices are placed onto a sheet of parchment on a flat cookie sheet and baked in the oven at 350ºF for 15 minutes.
  3. Then turn the slices over and spoon a little more marinade over them before returning to the oven for another 15 minutes.
  4. The slices shrink, and if you have sliced them too thin they will begin to burn. Take out any really thin pieces early and allow the thicker slices to continue to bake.

I keep these slices sealed in a container in the refrigerator for sandwiches, but they also make nice snacks and are good for crumbling over salads.

5. My Watermelon Rind Preserves

The rinds have to be soaked in lime water. To prepare the lime water, use 2 Tablespoons calcium oxide (lime) mixed in 2 quarts of water. Let the water stand several hours or overnight and pour off the water to use with the watermelon rinds. Leave any excess lime which may not have dissolved on the bottom of the bowl.

It is possible to use pickling salt instead but must be purchased. Don’t use regular salt because table salt has some anti-caking agents added which will make your finished preserves look unappealing.


  • 1 pint watermelon rinds (about one large watermelon rind), cut
  • Lime water or pickling salt water (see above)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger (for ginger water)
  • 1/2 thinly sliced lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water


  1. Cut off any pink portions of the rind and cut into cubes or slices.
  2. Cover the cubed or sliced rinds with lime water or pickling salt water and let stand for about one hour. Drain.
  3. Cover with fresh water and allow to stand for about one hour. Drain.
  4. Cover with fresh water and boil for 1.5 hours.
  5. While the rind is boiling, make ginger water by combining 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger and 1-pint water.
  6. Drain rinds. Boil rind for 10 minutes in ginger water.
  7. Boil lemon slices 5 minutes in half a cup of water and save for later.
  8. Combine sugar with 2 cups water and bring to a boil to make a syrup.
  9. Drain watermelon rind and add to syrup. Simmer until rind becomes tender and transparent and the syrup has a honey-like consistency. Add lemon when the syrup thickens.
  10. Let stand until cold. Pack into hot jars to within half an inch of the top. Affix lids and rings.
  11. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes to seal or keep in the refrigerator for use.
Softened yeast in warm water.  Ready for the rest of the ingredients and the bread machine.

Softened yeast in warm water. Ready for the rest of the ingredients and the bread machine.

Bonus: Homemade Whole Wheat Italian Sandwich Rolls

I have been making my own sandwich rolls for some time now, ever since my doctor said I needed to avoid white bread for my colon’s sake. However, I’ve always liked making my own bread and I’ve managed to create a recipe that I really enjoy and they are vegan too. Since I got my bread machine the process is even easier and more convenient for me.


  • 1 teaspoon active yeast (for a bread machine)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups white unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Put the first three ingredients in the bread machine pan and allow to sit until the yeast is softened and frothy about 10 minutes.
  2. After 10 minutes, add the remaining ingredients.
  3. Put the pan into the bread machine and set it for dough only.
  4. When the timer goes off, take the dough out and shape into small hamburger sized rolls onto a greased baking pan. For extra fancy décor, make two or three slashes with a sharp knife across the top of each roll.
  5. After they have raised and doubled in size, bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. After taking them out of the oven, while they are still hot, brush the tops with vegan margarine or coconut oil to make the crusts soft.
Butter the top of the still warm bread with vegan butter or coconut oil.

Butter the top of the still warm bread with vegan butter or coconut oil.

Bag Up Bread

I like to bag these up and up half in the freezer for later and half in the breadbox for sandwiches this week. Remember that homemade bread does not have any preservatives added, so it will go moldy rather quickly. Use them up before 5 days are out or freeze most of them and only keep out what you know you will use right away.

My sandwich—yummy.

My sandwich—yummy.

Mix and Match

When making my sandwiches, I mix and match the above materials with some romaine lettuce, vegan barbecue sauce, mustard, or vegan mayonnaise for condiments, and sometimes a smear of hummus. The barbecue sauce is my favorite and goes well with the zucchini discs and carrot slices.

These are most of my sandwich-making materials. I’d love to hear what you thought or if you have any further suggestions.

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