11 September 2012

Cookbook review: 'Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day'

It is really exciting that veganism has come so far that cookbooks are specializing in single items, like cupcakes and soups. So it's no surprise that Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes’ new addition to the cookbook world, Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day has created a lot of buzz amongst the sandwich lovers in the vegan community.

A quick glance through the pages alerted me immediately to fact that the authors are stretching the definition of sandwich in a whole new way. So I decided to try 8 different recipes as a good cross-section of recipes that immediately appealed to me and those that I wouldn’t have thought of as sandwiches.

Being a complete sucker for onion rings in any form, I was delighted by the Onion Ring Ranchocado, and the peppery Radish and Creamy Cheese Bagel Sandwich was divine. I also loved the Tofu Pomegranate Pockets, the Taste of Tuscany and the Maple-nut Pie Wafflewich.

However, this cookbook is not without its failings and some of the recipes are not as successful as others. The Chow Mein Sandwich was not just strange sounding, it was strange to eat. It was by far the messiest sandwich I’ve eaten in some time. The slippery noodles and vegetable mix piled on a flat bun were impossible to keep inside the sandwich and I ended up with great globs of the filling falling back on the plate. The Oreo Wafflewich sounded delicious, and would have been too, if the filling hadn’t been so sugary, and if the recipe hadn’t called for so much of it. Of course, this may be fixed in future uses of this recipe by simply halving the amount of filling.

Unfortunately, the worst offender in this cookbook is the Strawberry Spinach Tacowich. If you know anything about Mexican food and especially about corn tortillas, you understand why this recipe doesn’t work. The recipe calls for “corn or wheat tortillas” and the photo shows corn tortillas in the finished product. However, the directions do not call for any cooking technique to be used on the tortillas. This is the fatal flaw. Corn tortillas cannot be eaten raw. They are dry and brittle. The photo cheats by picturing the taco dry and uncooked but without the sauce. Had they put the sauce on the dry tortillas, they would have cracked apart and the pics would have been ruined because the tacos could no longer hold their form. Corn tortillas, in order to be used properly and neither crack nor choke the person eating them, have to be either steamed or fried in oil, making this an unappetizing sandwich that is difficult to get down. Since the sauce with the combination of spinach and strawberries were otherwise delicious, it’s a shame that such a small technical error should ruin the taco.

As a whole, Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day is worth the purchase price. There are plenty of great sandwiches to keep you in lunches for a long time. The occasional recipe that you need to adjust should not be enough to keep you from buying what is otherwise a great addition to the vegan cook’s bookshelf.

Fianna MacGregor | Blog | Blog | Twitter | Email New York City Fianna has been vegan for 36 years. She is currently working on a second M.A. in Human Rights from NYU. When she isn’t veganizing every cookbook she can get her hands on, she’s working her urban farm in New York City. She also writes extensively on veganism, running and green living. Her newest project is to trace everything she buys to find out if it’s cruelty-free (both animal and human) and eco-friendly. Fianna and her fiancĂ© are animal rescuers of dogs, cats and birds.

Photo credit: Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day       Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher