Vegetarian Cuban Sandwiches

If you’ve never tried Jackfruit–it can be kind of odd to imagine a fruit replacing a meat. But this stuff is amazing!! It is super healthy and low-calorie and widely available. Young Jackfruit (what this recipe calls for) is not sweet yet and makes the perfect substitute for shredded pork or chicken. Ripe Jackfruit (harder to find) is sweet and a good fruity dessert option.

In my experience, Jackfruit is the best veggie option for pulled “pork” sandwiches, “chicken” tacos, carnitas and other shredded meat dishes. I buy it unflavored + canned in brine (Trader Joe’s brand is what I’m currently loving) or flavored + prepared for quick meals (i.e. The Jackfruit Company).

Mojo Marinated Jackfruit + lightly sweetened veggie ham + pickles, mustard and Swiss cheese come together for a delicious veggie take on this classic sandwich!

We have an amazing little Cuban restaurant and bakery in town that serves fresh, flavorful and authentic food for a great price. Andrew and I love going to see the owner, catching up with her and enjoying her creations. I don’t order what I used to since I became a vegetarian but for sure there’s always a piece of guava cake with my name on it 🙂

I have always loved a good Cuban sandwich and about a year ago, Andrew and I tried to make one with bbq’d Jackfruit. We were *close* but didn’t have it quite right. We’ve worked the recipe a few times since then and this is a home run!

Of course we will still go visit our beloved local restaurant and I’ll eat all the rice and plantains possible (and guava cake for days!)— but for times I want a good, classic (vegetarian) Cuban, I’ll happily make this sandwich 🙂

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Vegetarian Cuban Sandwiches

Vegetarian spin on the classic Cuban sandwich. Filled with marinated Jackfruit, veggie ham, mustard, pickles and Swiss. Delicious, comforting and easy—this sandwich will satisfy for weeknights, game day and more. Meats are vegan–sandwich can be made vegan with a vegan cheese option.
*This recipe requires young green Jackfruit in brine (not ripened, sweet fruit)
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Jackfruit Cuban Pork, Vegetarian Cuban Sandwich
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Marinade Time 2 hours
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 3
Author thedachshundmom

Ingredients

Mojo Marinade Ingredients:

  • 20 oz canned young Jackfruit in brine, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 tsp crushed mint
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro loosely packed
  • 2 Tbl lime juice
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp orange zest

Sandwich Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf Cuban style bread (cut into 6 inch pieces and split) *or use crusty 6-inch sub rolls, split
  • 4 oz thin vegan/veggie ham
  • 1 Tbl agave syrup
  • 6 slices Swiss cheese (or vegan option)
  • 1/2 cup dill pickle chips (approx. 6-8 per sub)
  • 3 Tbl yellow mustard or to taste

Instructions

Prep Jackfruit and Marinade:

  • Using a mesh strainer over a large bowl, remove any remaining liquid from the Jackfruit by pressing firmly and breaking up large chunks. The Jackfruit should be as dry as possible before marinating. Pressing with a paper towel may help with this process.
  • Place dried Jackfruit in a dry large bowl. Add in dry spices (mint, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper). Rub the spices into the ‘meat’ thoroughly by hand, continuing to break up and shred any larger chunks.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, orange zest and garlic. Add the liquid mix to the ‘meat’.
  • Add in cilantro to the marinade and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate to marinate at least 2 hours (or up to 24 hours).

Cook Jackfruit:

  • Preheat oven to 350*F.
  • Pour prepared Jackfruit into a skillet and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep this skillet out for the ham (see below).
  • Spread Jackfruit in a thin, single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. No need to stir or turn.

Prepare Ham:

  • While Jackfruit is cooking in the oven, add 1 Tbl agave syrup to skillet. Cook ham slices according to package directions. Be sure to coat both sides of ‘ham’ with agave to give a hint of sweet flavor. Set cooked ham slices aside.

Assemble and Cook Sandwiches:

  • Preheat panini or grill press to ‘high’ while assembling the sandwiches.
  • Assemble each sandwich in this order, starting from the bottom: add a drizzle of mustard, 1/3 of the sliced pickles and 1/3 of the cooked ham. Pile on 1/3 of the cooked Jackfruit, then add 2 slices cheese. Finish with a drizzle of mustard on the top half of bread, if desired. Repeat steps for remaining two sandwiches.
  • Carefully press sandwiches on preheated panini/grill press until bread is lightly toasted and cheese is melted, approximately 5-6 minutes.
  • Let stand for a few minutes then cut each sandwich in half. Enjoy!

Notes

Mojo Marinade Recipe adapted from:
http://howtobbqright.com/2018/03/08/grilled-cuban-sandwich/
*Pressing extra liquid out of the Jackfruit ensures it absorbs the marinade.
*Breaking down larger chunks into shreds gives a closer consistency to traditional pulled pork. This step is best done by hand and quite firmly–don’t be afraid to really mix in the spices and break down the “meat”—it yields a much better flavor and texture.
*The agave is added to mimic a “honey ham” flavor profile on a traditional Cuban sandwich. If your ham substitute is sweeter, you may not need the agave.
*Sandwiches could also be pressed in a hot skillet with a heavy skillet on top or could be grilled if preferred.
 
Classic Cuban turned vegetarian–marinated Mojo Jackfruit + veggie ham + mustard, pickles and Swiss!

I hope your new year is off to a great start! If you have a resolution I hope it’s working well for you so far 🙂 And if you’re not resolving to do anything but try good food and travel this year, I feel ya! One of my goals this year is to spend even more quality time in the kitchen with my husband–so far so good!!

We have lots of good foods headed your way (mostly veggie based but definitely some desserts!). Maybe you’re not a vegetarian but you know one–I’d be so grateful if you’d share my site with them 🙂 And if you’ve ever seen this crazy thing called Jackfruit in a store but had no idea how to use it–try it in this delicious and easy sandwich 😉



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