Day after day, sandwiches can get pretty boring. Don't get me wrong, I love sandwiches but they can get tiresome if you eat them every day. On the plus side, sandwiches are a super easy meal idea, and their portability makes them a go-to lunch for those needing to brown bag it. The problem is that having sandwiches daily can get monotonous. Variety is indeed the spice of life and sometimes we just need a little change. Today I'm here to offer you a little more spice and variety into your lunchtime routine. Let's bypass the bread aisle and look into some sandwich alternatives, some un'sandwiches.
The Collard Wrap
Collard greens, these great tasting and nutrient packed veggies are often passed over by kale hungry shoppers. This is unfortunate because they are an affordable and hearty leafy green that provide a good amount of vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium. One of the best things about collard greens is their strength when used as a wrap. I'll admit, I love the idea of lettuce wraps but they always turn out to be a messy disaster on my plate. I can never get them to stay together. But not so for the trusty collard greens. Their big sturdy leaves are a perfect replacement for tortillas or lettuce wraps. Collard wraps are a great way to repackage leftovers into an alluring lunch. Leftover meat? Simply chop it up with some veggies and a sauce of your liking and you've got a great lunch. What about leftover curry or legume salad? Those, too, can be made into a delicious collard wrap. If you are brown bagging it, simply take the washed collard leaves and filling separately and assemble at lunchtime.
Curried ChickPea Collard Wrap
- 2 collard green leaves, washed
- 1 cup chickpeas, cooked
- 1/2- 1 cup of vegetables, diced (e.g. tomatoes, red onion, peppers, grated carrots)
- 1/2 apple, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt or mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon curry powder (or more, if desired)
- 1 tablespoon mango chutney (optional)
- Wash collard greens and trim stem. Dry and set aside.
- Combine chickpeas, vegetables and apple in a bowl.
- Combine Greek yogurt or mayo with curry powder. Mix into chickpea and vegetables.
- Divide chickpea mixture and spoon onto the middle of the collard greens. Add mango chutney, if desired. Fold bottom of the collard greens up onto the mixture and then fold sides in, making a secure wrap.
The Rice Paper Roll
You may be familiar with the rice paper used in salad rolls but their use can stretch farther than those delicious veggie and shrimp stuffed Vietnamese rolls. Rice paper, the hard circular sheets found in Asian supermarkets, are a great way to spice up your lunchtime routine. And you don't have to stick with the typical salad roll type of ingredients either, you can be quite creative with fillings. Different types of meats, seafood, marinated tofu, veggies or legume mixtures would be great rolled up in rice paper. These rolls are great for dipping, too. Pair your rice roll creation with savory peanut sauce, spicy sriracha or a creamy honey-mustard. The possibilities are endless. And don't fret too much about not being able to bring these for lunch. Rice paper rolls can be made ahead of time, just lay a damp cloth or paper towel over your rolls and they'll be good for the next day (this is also a great way to keep leftover salad rolls fresh).
Chicken, Mango and Veggie Rice Paper Rolls
- 2-4 circular rice paper wrappers (number needed will vary depending on amount of filling)
- 1/2-1 cooked chicken breast, sliced
- 1 cup veggies, thinly sliced (e.g. carrots, peppers, green onion, purple cabbage, cucumber)
- 1/2 medium mango, thinly sliced
- 1 cup rice vermicelli noodles, cooked
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, mint or cilantro, washed and stems trimmed
- Peanut sauce, for dipping (optional)
- Lime wedge (optional)
- Slice cooked chicken breast, vegetables, fresh herbs and mango. Set aside.
- Cook rice vermicelli and set aside.
- Prepare rice paper wrappers - dip one wrapper at a time in hot, not boiling, water. Dip quickly and ensure water softens all wrapper. For a video tutorial see here.
- Place the soften wrapper on a clean and dry cutting board. Place a little chicken, veggies, herbs, mango and rice vermicelli noodles in the center. Be careful not to overload wrapper.
- Gently fold in top and bottom, then fold the remaining sides to create a enclosed roll.
- Set aside and continue with the remaining rice paper wrappers and ingredients. When complete, if not eating right away, cover with damp cloth.
- Serve with peanut sauce (optional) and a squeeze of lime. Enjoy
The Cucumber and Zucchini Boats
Both cucumbers and zucchinis, when sliced in half lengthwise and de-seeded, make great vehicles for toppings. The specific vehicle I'm talking about - a boat. These slightly hollowed out veggie boats are a fun way to replace an open-faced sandwich. Cucumber boats work best for fresh raw toppings while zucchini boats can be enjoyed both uncooked with fresh ingredients or baked (e.g. baked zucchini pizza boats or a grain free tuna melt). Just remember when you are picking out cucumber and zucchinis for boats, choose ones that are a little smaller to make crunching away on them a little easier. If you are baking a zucchini boat, size doesn't matter as much as you'll likely be eating them with utensils. As for packability for work lunches, ingredients for these boats can be packed separately and assembled at mealtime. Baked zucchini boats, on the other hand, may be a little more difficult to bring for lunch and you may prefer to keep them as an at home treat.
HUMMUS and Basil Cucumber Boats
- 1 medium cucumber
- 3/4 cup hummus
- handful basil leaves
- wash cucumber and cut down the middle length-wise. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds leaving a slight length-wise indentation along the cucumber, essentially making a "boat".
- Spread hummus on cucumber, sprinkle with paprika and top with fresh basil leaves.
The Nori Wrap
Nori, the flattened sheets of seaweed used for sushi, are more versatile than you think. You don't just have to roll sushi-related ingredients in them, either. Again, this sandwich alternative can hold a variety of fillings. From leftover mashed potatoes, meat and veggies to canned fish and quinoa, or egg salad, nori wraps are another great way to get un'sandwiched. Enjoy these nori wraps in a single long roll (as you would a tortilla wrap) or cut up like sushi.
Canned Tuna and Veggie Nori Wrap with Wasabi Mayo
- Nori, ~ 3 sheets
- 1/2 can tuna, flaked-light type
- 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt or mayonnaise
- wasabi, powder or paste
- 1/4-1/2 avocado
- 1/4 cup cucumber, sliced
- 1 green onion, sliced
- Wash and cut avocado, green onion and cucumber in slender, matchstick-like slices.
- Mix wasabi powder or paste with mayonnaise or Greek yogurt. Start with a small amount of wasabi and make to taste.
- Drain tuna. Combine wasabi mixture with tuna.
- To assemble: Lay nori sheets out flat. In the middle of each sheet, put a little tuna and vegetables length-wise along the center. Choose one length-wise end to wet slightly with water. Start rolling from the dry end when finished rolling, the slightly wet end will seal the wrap together.