Lunches have a bit of a reputation for being boring, especially the packed variety. Soggy pre-sliced bread, a sad slice of cheese, maybe the futile crunch of ill-placed cucumber stuffed in a plastic container. No love, no care. And for vegans the picture is even more bleak: maybe hummus and veggies will suffice, but day in, day out? It gets monotonous. Well I am here to say, no more. Mixing it up a bit with this smokey, sweet sandwich will remove you from the lacklustre lunches of old. The herby kick of the pesto on the toasted ciabatta add a dimension unsurmountable by sliced bread and butter alone. This recipe makes two sandwiches, and is amazing as a make-ahead picnic main or a packed lunch for work.
- Large Roasting Tin
- Knife and Cutting Board
- Frying Pan
- Pestle and Mortar (Pesto only)
- 2 Ciabatta Rolls
- 1 Red Pepper, sliced into strips
- 1 Large Aubergine, sliced into strips
- Olive Oil
- Vegan Pesto (Recipe below)
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
For Homemade Pesto Spread (Can also buy jarred Vegan Pesto):
- Small Bunch Basil
- Handful Pine Nuts
- 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- Juice of 1/2 Lemon
- 2 cloves Garlic, peeled
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Toss the aubergine and red pepper on the roasting tin with a few glugs of olive oil (avoid extra virgin here as it will burn) and plenty of salt and pepper. If you feel like it, this is a great point to add some dried herbs like oregano or spices like cayenne or paprika, but personally I find the sweet and smokey flavour of the veggies is enough on its own. Place the tray in the centre of the oven and leave to roast for 30 minutes, taking out halfway through to toss. Once out of the oven, leave for at least 5 minutes to cool a little bit before assembling the sandwiches.
Heat the frying pan over a medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Slice your ciabatta rolls and place cut-side down in the pan, moving around a bit to soak up the oil. Fry until golden and toasted, then remove from the pan. Slather the pesto on both slices of bread, then top the base with your roasted veggies, then add the top piece. Cut in half and serve with a crisp dressed salad.
For a Homemade Pesto (To be made while the veggies are in the oven):
Over a medium heat, heat a dry frying pan for 30 seconds. Throw in the pine nuts and toast, alternating between leaving for a moment and rapidly moving the pan to avoid burning (this should take between 1-2 minutes). Set aside on a plate to cool.
In the mortar, crush the garlic and cooled pine nuts into a paste. Tear in the basil leaves with the nutritional yeast and lemon juice, and continue to grind until well combined. Bit by bit, pour in the extra virgin olive oil while continuing to grind, until at a drizzle-able consistency has been reached. Season with salt and pepper. This will keep in a sterilised jar for up to 5 days, and can also be used as a pasta sauce.