One of my favorite, quick ‘vegan’ meals when out and about has been the Panera Mediterranean Sandwich, without the feta cheese. Turns out, it’s not actually vegan after all. (More about this later.) And of course, I already knew it wasn’t WFPBNO compliant. (Deep sigh.) So I created my own oil free, refined sugar free, vegan Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich recipe.
Why I Love this Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich Recipe
My homemade Mediterranean veggie sandwich recipe is both whole food plant-based and vegan. It’s not as sweet as Panera’s (they use a number of sweeteners in their sandwich including a ‘brown sugar crumb topping’). Instead, this sandwich is fresh, crunchy, creamy, and just a bit spicy—with 100% good-for-you ingredients.
I didn’t even bother trying to replicate Panera’s tomato basil bread. I like to use a sprouted no-flour bread for my sandwiches, like Ezekiel bread from Good for Life. Or, use your gluten-free bread of choice, if desired.
And personally, I skip the ‘cheese’ altogether. For me, the sandwich is creamy enough with plenty of flavors and textures going on already. But you could make a batch of Almond Ricotta for your sandwich or buy a compliant nut cheese if you like.
We make our own jalapeno cilantro hummus for this Mediterranean veggie sandwich recipe, so it’s oil free. It takes just five minutes to whip up, and it’s so worth it. And if you can’t find WFBP compliant sweet pickled red peppers, I’ve included a simple, creative way to make your own.
Eating Out WFPBNO
When you follow a whole food plant-based diet, dining out creates a host of challenges. Unless you order a plain salad or a plate of steamed veggies, chances are, you’re going to run into some non-compliant ingredients.
Do we have to be perfect in our eating? No, I don’t think so. My personal opinion is that when we follow a WFPBNO lifestyle, perfect the enemy of good. Striving for perfection can lead to unnecessary shame and guilt, and these feelings cause some people to simply give up altogether. We don’t want that! But should we make well informed decisions about what we’re eating? Absolutely.
Panera Mediterranean Sandwich Nutrition
Back to the Panera Mediterranean Sandwich. Apparently, it’s not only not WFPBNO compliant, it’s not vegan because it contains honey and cultured dextrose—an additive made from dairy. (Note to self: restaurant workers often have no idea what’s in the food they serve or what vegan actually means.)
According to the website Fooducate, the Panera Mediterranean Sandwich ingredients include: palm oil, fractionated vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil, brown sugar, white sugar, honey (not vegan), sorbitan monostearate, xantham gum, guar gum, phosphoric acid, cultured dextrose (not vegan), enriched wheat flour, etc.
Note: I wouldn’t recommend Fooducate as a go-to for nutritional advice (four to five eggs a week are fine for most people?), but this site can help you discover the ingredients of items on some chain restaurant menus.
Would I still eat the Panera Mediterranean sandwich in a pinch? Maybe. But now I'll be making this creamy, spicy, fresh Mediterranean veggie sandwich at home.
If you like this whole food plant based recipe, you might also like:
- Oven-Roasted BBQ Mushroom Sandwich
- Vegan Portobello Mushroom Burger with Cheddar Sauce
- Vegan Egg Salad
- Oil Free Hummus
- Oil Free Mayonnaise & Aioli
Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich
Oil-Free Jalapeno Cilantro Hummus
- 1 15 ounce can chickpeas LIQUID RESERVED, drained and rinsed (or 1 ½ cup well cooked chickpeas)
- 1-2 jalapenos seeded and chopped
- ½ cup cilantro leaves chopped
- ¼ cup mellow white miso
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons tahini or more, to taste
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice plus zest of ½ lemon
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- Optional: ⅛ cup pine nuts
Pickled Sweet Red Peppers
- 1 12 ounce jar roasted red peppers in water
- ¼ cup rice vinegar sugar free
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup or more, to taste
- Pinch of salt
To make the Oil-Free Jalapeno Cilantro Hummus
- Place all of the ingredients in a food processor, and process until completely blended and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. Thin with 1-2 tablespoons of reserved chickpea liquid ('aquafaba') as needed.
To make the Pickled Sweet Red Peppers
- Strain out all of the liquid from the jar. Whisk the vinegar and maple syrup together. Pour into the jar over peppers. Close lid tightly and shake well. Refrigerate at least one hour, or preferably over night.
- You may be able to find jarred sweet peppadew or other peppers in the store, but they often have added refined sugars. It's easy to make your own starting with jarred roasted red peppers. They won't taste as sweet, but I think they're great in this sandwich.