Food Network Friday: BBQ Panini Sandwich

My sandwich

It’s the return of Food Network Friday! After a brief hiatus that went a little longer than planned, Amy M. challenged us to veganize this panini from an episode of the Neely’s. Originally made with dry rubbed pork, the sandwich is really just protein, dill pickles and cheese on a bun spread with garlicky butter and barbecue sauce that is pressed in a panini press. Somehow when it’s on the plate, the sandwich becomes a bit of a trickster. Just when you start thinking that it’s a hearty rustic sandwich, the next bite has you thinking it should be served in a gourmet sandwich shop with a side of pomme frites. It’s complex and delicious, and most of all, not what I expected.

Amy’s sandwich

Here’s Amy’s version, complete with recipe since Amy is blogless. I love that she opted for tofu and her dry rub sounds full of flavor. Thanks for using the Cheezy Mayo from American Vegan Kitchen, Amy! Here’s the write-up in her own words.

Dry Rub:

4 t. paprika
2 t. sugar
1 t. salt
1 t. Spike
2 t. onion powder
1 t. pepper
pinch cayenne
1# Extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed; sliced thin (I got 16 slices)
4 T. margarine, room temperature
1 clove garlic, minced
4 Ciabatta rolls, sliced horizontally
Dill pickle slices
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
Cheezy Mayo from American Vegan Kitchen
Preheat grill (I used my George Foreman) Mix dry rub ingredients together. Pat on both sides of tofu slices. Grill for a few minutes on each side.
Preheat panini press (I used my George Foreman for this too.)
In a small bowl, mix margarine and garlic.
Divide ingredients between ciabatta, layering barbecue sauce, tofu, pickles, then Cheezy Mayo. Butter the top of the roll. Invert sandwich onto the grill. Butter the bottom (which is now the top). Close grill and cook until bread is toasty, about 5 minutes.
The dry rub is one I made up by combining the rub is one I made up combining a few recipes I found, including the original recipe for this panini. It made more than I needed, but that’s OK. It’ll be ready for next time!

The bbq flavor, between the dry rub and the sauce, was awesome! It kind of overpowered the Cheezy Mayo tho. I could tell it was there but not as much as I’d have liked to. I think next time I’ll use the mayo on the bottom of the ciabatta too and then put the bbq sauce on top of the tofu.

This panini was very messy but so good. It was totally worth the mess!

Liz, from Cooking the Vegan Books is always up for a challenge. That’s fairly obvious since she gave us the toughest challenge to date, Kedgeree. For this sandwich, Liz brilliantly smoked the seitan and now I’m anxious to try that method. Be sure to see her blog for the recipe, as well as the info on the side dish.

Liz’s sandwich

If you’ve followed this blog for more than 10 minutes, you could probably guess that I’d choose seitan for the protein in this sandwich. I planned to make my own bread for this but changed my mind when I found the ideal panini bread at Wegman’s this week. If you have a store by you, check out their ciabatta baguette! Like Liz, I balked at the amount of sugar in the original recipe and cut it way back. My photo is on top; here’s my recipe.

BBQ Seitan Panini Sandwich
Serves 2

1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper
8 ounces seitan, cut thinly
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise*
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 dill pickles, sliced thinly lengthwise
1/4 cup shredded cheddar style vegan cheese
1/4 cup barbecue sauce, warmed
1 14-inch ciabatta baguette or bread of choice

In a shallow 9 X 13-inch rimmed baking pan, combine the dry ingredients up to and including the black pepper. Add the seitan slices to the pan and toss them to coat with the seasoning mix. Set aside for 1 hour or longer. When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. and add the broth to the baking pan. Roast 10 minutes. If using a panini press, begin heating it.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise with the garlic. Slice the bread and spread thinly on the inside bottom of the baguette. When the seitan is done, layer it on the bread, followed by the pickles and cheese. Spread the barbecue sauce on the inside of the top baguette. Put the tops on the sandwiches and cook in the panini press until done, about 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

*The original recipe called for butter mixed with garlic. While I love garlic butter as much as the next guy, the reduced fat vegan mayo is way lower in fat and so good in sandwiches. Also, I keep going back and forth on whether I like to butter the outside of a panini or not. I’m not sure it makes a big difference to the taste or texture. However, it does make the sandwich look more like a panini, and in this case I didn’t butter the top and you can tell.

If you were up for this week’s challenge, be sure to comment to this post. Feel like you’d like to join in another time and have a great idea for a recipe? Just email me. Thanks to Amy for suggesting this incredible sandwich that I know I’ll be making again. This was an awesome challenge and I’d love to eat at both your tables.

Coming next week: a cookbook giveaway!

4/10: Late Breaking FNF news! Here’s a sandwich from Kim, aka Veg in Training. I think she broke her personal best in using tester recipes. Her delicious looking version uses gorgeous torpedo rolls from Carla (upcoming Vegan Bake Sale), Julie’s smoky sandwich spread (upcoming Vegan Diner), the seitan from American Vegan Kitchen and…..her own fantastic sounding barbecue sauce. Hey, Kim, I’ll cook you breakfast after your graveyard shifts if you’ll cook me dinner!

Kim’s sandwich

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  1. Posted April 10, 2010 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    Brilliant week ladies. It is always fun to see the different interpretations!

  2. Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    Deal! Just wish you lived closer :)

  3. Posted April 11, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    All great looking sandwiches. I love using our Panini maker. My husband would love this! Keep up the nice recipes!!!

  4. Posted April 12, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Oh man, I totally failed on FNF this time around. What are we doing next time?

  5. Posted April 13, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Here’s the next week, but I haven’t done a blog post about it. Thanks for asking!

    Big flavors!

  6. Posted April 13, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    DANG, some delicious sandwiches ya got there!

  7. Posted April 16, 2010 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    I noticed that you used “Spike” in this recipe, which contains MSG (under the name “hydrolyzed vegetable protein”) and since I’m trying to avoid all neurotoxins in my food, I was wondering if you have ever created a “copycat” of this spice blend or would ever consider it. If you have, I would love to know the recipe for it!

  8. Posted April 16, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    i *love* paninis, but i always do some italian version. i’ve got to try this!

  9. Posted April 16, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Dominique, thanks for your comment. That doesn’t happen to be my sandwich recipe, but you could use any spice blend that you know you like. My cookbook also has a kitchen spice blend that wasn’t modeled after Spike, but could be used.

    Miss V, panini bread is your canvas. Go wild!

  10. Posted April 16, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Sorry about that misunderstanding with the spice and I think I will try another blend with this sandwich. I am really looking forward to buying your cookbook – your recipes are wonderful!

  11. Posted April 16, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    No problem, Dominique, and I know you’ll come up with something wonderful for that sandwich.

    Thanks for your kind words on my recipes, too.

  12. Posted April 16, 2010 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Hey Tami

    Did you use one of your seitan recipes from the cookbook? I think I tested just about all of them, lol, and they were all winners…the sandwich sounds great, and I need to make some seitan anyway…which one did you use?


  13. Posted September 14, 2011 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Another variety to try out! Panini sandwiches come with different ways of preparing them and this shows that we do not have to keep ordering the common kind from our favorite delis because we can still have that delicious taste with the added variety of toppings to choose from!

  14. Posted November 4, 2011 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Sandwiches, bagels, cakes, cookies – how exciting it is to munch on these! Learning more about sandwiches truly adds delight to the experience of eating them and the same goes with those who crave on sweet treats. The way they are prepare and decorated lets us know that they are made with our health and taste in mind.

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