When was the last time you had a hot Italian sub sandwich? These creations of crusty bread, cheese, meat, and spaghetti sauce are a full meal deal. Variations of the hot Italian sub are limited only by your imagination. One version of this sandwich substitutes vegetables for the meat. Yes, you can still use meat if you want to. However, it is not necessary. You won’t sacrifice taste! Cut your calories by using the vegetables instead of meat and never miss it.
Vegetables are often used as condiments on sandwiches. This sandwich elevates them to the main course. There are advantages to crafting a sandwich from vegetables. Vegetables offer variety, low calories, fiber, and low carbohydrates. You may sauté` or roast them. These sandwiches use roasted vegetables, but feel free to cook the vegetables any way that suits you. Use the ingredients that your loved ones appreciate.
To make two pans full of roasted vegetables, I used eggplant, zucchini, onion, and peppers. You choose what vegetables you want to roast. This recipe makes enough roasted vegetables for 5-6 hearty sandwiches. Other selections for roasting might include portabella mushrooms, tomatoes, yellow squash, and peeled garlic cloves. These vegetables may be made ahead of time, cooled, and stored in covered containers in the refrigerator. Adjust your sandwich heating time accordingly.
Here is a recipe for the ingredients for the basic sandwich. Several variations will follow the main recipe.
Basic Roasted Vegetable Sub
2 unpeeled zucchini squash cut into 3-inch-long pieces, then cut lengthwise into ¼ inch pieces
1 onion, peeled and cut into ¼ inch round pieces (I used Vidalia)
2 peppers cut into quarters (Use any color that you want.)
1 unpeeled eggplant cut into ¼ inch rounds
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil (I use the Kirkland brand.)
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 jar of spaghetti sauce (Use your favorite sauce. I used Newman’s Own Sockarooni, a chunky sauce that contains tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, and olive oil. The profits are donated to charity, too!)
2-3 tablespoons of grated cheese per sandwich (I used an Italian blend, which included Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Asiago, Fontina, and Romano cheeses.)
Crusty Italian bread or a baguette (I like to use 3-4 linear inches of bread per person. You may use more or less.)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Spray two shiny jelly roll pans or cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray.
Cut the vegetables and set aside. In a flat bottomed container, whip the olive oil and balsamic vinegar until thoroughly mixed. Dip each piece of vegetable in the oil and vinegar mixture. If you are using smaller vegetables like mushrooms or garlic, you may save them for last. Add them to the bowl, and use a fork to toss well to coat them with oil and vinegar. Eggplant soaks up oil, so dip it quickly.
Arrange the vegetables on the baking sheets as you coat them in oil, so that they barely touch. Salt and pepper the vegetables to taste. I like to use a garlic sea salt and freshly ground pepper. It takes 30 minutes to one hour to roast the vegetables. The timing depends on how well done you want the vegetables. I cook mine for 20 minutes, turn them over, and cook them for another 20-25 minutes. Test the vegetables with a fork. It should slide in easily with no resistance. Take the cooked vegetables out of the oven and set them aside while you assemble the sandwiches. One great thing is that each sub can be made to satisfy the unique tastes of your family and friends.
Assemble the sub sandwiches by cutting the bread into sandwich sized pieces. The size depends on the appetites of the crew that you’re feeding. Slice the bread horizontally. Spoon enough sauce over each piece of bread to cover it. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons full of cheese on each slice of bread. Let them rest until the cheese has bonded a bit with the sauce. Layer your choice of vegetables on top of the bottom piece of bread. Cover this with the top piece of bread. The cheese side is inside of the sandwich. Press both slices of bread together firmly. Place the sandwiches on an oven proof-plate or on a cookie sheet. Bake the subs at 400 degrees F. for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bread is crisp. Be very careful with the hot sandwich.
Here are some tasty combinations:
Roast Vegetable Delight- Layer zucchini, onion, and pepper on the bun using the directions above.
Meat and Veggie Sub- Using the directions above, layer onions, pepper, and sausage on a bun. I used Summer Sausage. Pepperoni or salami would work, also.
Open-Faced Eggplant- After slicing the bread horizontally, add the tomato sauce and cheese to each slice. Cover each piece of bread with a slice of eggplant. Sprinkle the eggplant lightly with about ½ tablespoon of cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted.
Mushroom Madness- Portabella mushrooms, peppers, and onions or garlic make a delicious sub.
The beauty of using vegetables as the main ingredient of these Italian subs is that they can be tailored to suit each person’s individual taste. If you are serving food to people who are vegetarians, including those who choose a vegan lifestyle, these sandwiches are a great choice. A meat eater can find satisfaction, too. Just add a bit of sausage, and say, “Buon appetito!”
When I mention products by brand name, these are the ones that I use. I have not received free products from the manufacturers, nor have I been paid to mention the products by name.