En español | Whether for money, health or being humane, many of us are cutting back on meat. And one of the easiest ways to start is with sandwiches. After all, there are tons of interesting treats you can stuff between two slices of bread. For example, I used to savor bacon, sausage or ham breakfast sandwiches. But with a juicy slab of summer tomato, topped with a thin slice of melted cheese and a protein-rich egg, I don't miss the meat for a minute. And here's my little trick: Sprinkle a little smoked paprika (also known as pimenton) on your egg, and you'll swear pork's hiding in there somewhere. (It's not surprising that smoked paprika evokes meat; it's used in making chorizo sausage.)
Want an Italian meatless sub just as good as the (fattier) original? Fill the roll with all your favorite sub sandwich ingredients — lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, peppers, cheese — then toss in marinated artichoke hearts, which are rich in fiber and lower in calories than cold cuts. And the olive oil makes the perfect dressing.
Enjoy a good sloppy joe? Sauté mushrooms instead of the usual ground beef, and you've got an equally satisfying meatless supper. Check out the calorie and cholesterol counts between mushrooms (15 calories and zero percent cholesterol per cup) versus ground beef (182 calories and 73 mg in just three ounces of 90 percent lean). Wow!
Here's how to make these delicious sandwiches, one for each meal of the day:
Meatless Breakfast Sandwiches with Smoky Eggs, Tomatoes and Cheddar
Serves two. This hearty meatless breakfast sandwich will stick with you until lunch.
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 large eggs
Salt and ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (also known as pimenton)
2 ciabatta rolls, halved
4 large tomato slices, lightly sprinkled with salt
4 slices cheddar cheese
Heat oil in a small non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add eggs, breaking the yolks; season with salt, pepper and a generous sprinkling of the smoked paprika. Cover and continue to cook until eggs have set, just a minute or two. Turn eggs and season remaining side with a little more of the smoked paprika; continue to cook until egg yolk has just set, a minute or two longer. Meanwhile, broil ciabatta until golden brown. Add tomatoes and cheese; continue to broil until cheese has melted, just a couple of minutes longer. Top each tomato with an egg. Cap with remaining ciabatta top and serve.
Barbecued Mushroom Sandwiches
Enough for four to five sandwiches. You'll have enough leftover barbecued mushrooms for another hearty meatless sandwich another day. You can also use leftovers as a pizza topping.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds sliced mushrooms
1 medium-large onion, chopped
Salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup your favorite barbecue sauce
4 to 5 sandwich buns.
Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat; add mushrooms and sauté until they lose their juices and then start to brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add onion; continue to sauté until onions soften, three to four minutes longer. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low; stir in barbecue sauce and enough water to create a loose sauce consistency. Continue to cook to heat through, a minute or so. Meanwhile toast buns until golden brown. Top with mushrooms and serve.
Meatless Italian Subs
Makes two large sandwiches serve two to four. This hearty meatless sandwich is so filling, you may find a half portion might be just right.
2 sandwich rolls
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 lettuce leaves
4 thin slices each (about 4 ounces total) provolone and pepper jack
4 dill pickle slices
2 slices each: large tomato, lightly sprinkled with salt, red onion, bell pepper rings
1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts
Drizzle each side of sandwich roll with olive oil and vinegar, sprinkle with oregano and then top each with a lettuce leaf and a cheese slice. Top each sandwich roll bottom with the following: pickle, tomato, onion, bell pepper and a portion of artichoke hearts. Cap with sandwich top. Halve and serve.
You may also like: Try these 10 meatless grilling ideas.
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