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Does a sandwich need a protein?

This was spawned by the "Best Sandwich I ever made" thread. There were quite a few on there with only veggies, and each one sounded tasty, but incomplete. If someone hands me a sammie with avocado, sprouts, red onion and swiss cheese, my first thought is, "Where's the turkey?"
Anyone else feel like this, or am I just an unrepentant carnivore?

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  1. I'm with you on the meats....but I will say a a grilled vegetable sandwich with olive oil and balsamic vinegar probably could be satisfying....especially if it had fresh mozzarella.

    btw.....I once had a girlfriend who ate iceberg lettuce with mayo on toast as her favorite sandwich. Go figure.

    1. I love meat, steak, chicken, pork, seafood, anything. Sometimes I just like a flavorful veggie sandwich and no to me it does not need protein.

      I make pastas quite often without a protein. A nice whole wheat pasta, grilled vegetables, a light sauce and dinner. I have probably 20 different recipes I love that are all veggie and love them as much as those with protein. Sandwiches are the same. Tons of combinations that can make a great sandwich.

      Sorry, I do love meat or something more, but just veggie is just fine for me.

      1. As a kid growing up in a British Protectorate (Fiji), i found myself loving cucumber and watercress tea sandwiches.... my girls also love these very simple yet tasty "snacks". So, no, I don't think a sandwich has to have a protein in it, although 98 % of all of mine do!

        1. My one exception would be a grilled cheese sandwich. Fine with just cheese and maybe a slice of tomato, although a couple slices of bacon takes it to the next level.

          4 Replies
            1. re: TampaAurora

              exactly what I was thinking ! but being a protein is not what we think of first and foremost, and cheese actually doesn't have a whole lot of it, if you're trying to rely on it for that purpose.

              1. My roomate in college used to make "bread sandwiches".

                Two slices of toast, with a slice of untoasted bread as the filling. Of course, the toast was buttered. But still ...

                1. Here's another question - is cheese considered a protein??

                  Back to the original question, though...One of my favorite sandwiches is cucumber and onion. Yes - perhaps incomplete as a meal, but really good!!!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jbsiegel

                    Yes, cheese is full of protein, even animal derived protein at that, thus the original sandwich which includes swiss cheese already has a protein. I think the author meant to imply meat specifically and not protein in the literal sense.

                    1. re: Sally599

                      I found that very bizarre, as a Swiss cheese sandwich is a "normal" one, and chock full of complete protein, animal-derived at that.

                      I've had lovely aubergine/eggplant sandwiches in Italy, with or without a bit of cheese or prosciutto.

                      People in the western world really don't have to consume complete proteins at every meal, unless they have some kind of nutritional deficiency.

                  2. I'm with you on the meat, but an ole iceburg lettuce and tomater sandwich in the summer is pretty darn good, no gasps please, but I've been known to use Miracle Whip for this one.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kpaumer

                      I won't gasp, but I'll be using sugar-free real mayonnaise (homemade or not). I hate sweet mayo.

                    2. My preferred sandwiches almost never have meat, with the exception of the BLT (and easy on the B) or a very thin slice of some good ham along with my veggies. But I DO want the protein in the form of hummus or whatever cheese fills my craving, as it just seems to add the proper perceptual "heft" to the sandwich. Maybe it's the fat (cheese, olive oil in hummus or baba ghanoush, etc.) that does it for me.


                      1. They don't all need meat to be good eating... cheese IS a protein. So are egg, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, hummus etc. But yes, all savoury sandwiches are improved by some kind of protein or protein-substitute. Potato salad and ham is much yummier than either alone.

                        1. Swiss cheese is a protein. There are lots of "classic" sandwiches that have non-meat proteins, including PB&J, egg salad, grilled cheese, etc.

                          1. Ok, for clarification, for all the smart-guys out there, I meant meat, poultry, fish...some type of dead animal.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ajs228

                              I knew exactly what you meant, yes cheese is a protein, but I knew your question

                            2. My husband feels like I am being purposefully mean and torture-ish when I exclude meat from ANY meal. We have arguments during breakfast about whether eggs are meat. You can guess where he comes down on that.

                              I make avocado and tomato sandwiches for me all summer long. Him.. I plop a couple pieces of bacon on top. You should see his face light up when I set it before him. Cracks me up.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                mashed bananas and strawberry jam - heavenly
                                Sandwich Spread
                                Sliced tomatoes and Hellmans

                                all good sandwiches in my book

                                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                  "My husband feels like I am being purposefully mean and torture-ish when I exclude meat from ANY meal. "
                                  Mine too! It's like he realizes true AGONY when I pull out the tofu, the primal screams are haunting.

                                  I get the face light up plus a "you DO love me!" when I add either bacon or cheese to stuff.

                                  1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                    LOL. I wish I had a video of my husband today when I told him there was rice salad in the fridge. He loped off to the kitchen sure he was getting vegetables and rice. Before he left he said is there cheese in it at least? I did not answer him. It irritated me. Then from the kitchen I hear him grumbling as he took the top off the crock and then there was this weird man squeal and "Shrimp!" It made me smile for at least an hour. He was humming away gleefully shoveling the salad down.

                                    He makes this guttural whoahohoooowwww sound when I give him anything bacon. It is the equiv. of "You DO love me". My smile back is "you bet I do Bacon Boy".

                                  2. re: Sal Vanilla

                                    I'm in total agreement with your husband, but why ruin a perfectly good bacon sandwich with avocado and eggplant?

                                  3. Swiss cheese is a protein. As I generally eat some form of protein every meal (ranging from yogurt to beef) I would say yes. Protein helps to satiate one's appetite, and I can see how a sandwich can seem kind of "empty" without one.

                                    1. I think either a protein or a really hearty cooked veggie, like a portobello mushroom. No sammies with just the crunchy rabbity veggies for me. Must be the bit of fat in the cooking that makes me full.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: amyvc

                                        A truly wonderful sandwich is a Vietnamese banh mi, on a small baguette roll. Usually animal protein (a compilation of piggy things, or shredded or grilled chicken) but also fresh herbs and slightly-marinated crunchy veg. Yum.

                                      2. I went hiking the other day. When we sat down on a fallen log to eat, my fellow hikers pulled out sandwiches on sliced whole wheat bread with deli-counter sliced ham and Kraft singles. I pulled out a sandwich on a crusty roll with slow-roasted tomatoes, roasted red peppers, grilled zucchini, pesto and swiss cheese. You tell me which one you'd rather eat.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Jetgirly

                                          Yours of course. Not even a choice.

                                          1. re: Jetgirly

                                            change it to goat cheese and you got me.

                                            1. re: im_nomad

                                              Or how about a smoky gouda. A favorite of mine with grilled veggies.

                                          2. A few meatless sandwiches that never make me think, "Where's the beef! (or meat)" are:
                                            Grilled cheese
                                            Fried egg
                                            Egg salad
                                            Peanut butter and jelly (or jam)
                                            But every one of these has a full helping of protein, even the peanut butter. The only protein free sandwich I really like that I can think of is a tomato sandwich, but I don't make those as much as I used to simply because I can't get tomatoes that often that taste as good as they used to. <sigh>

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                              Egg salad is a favorite, even with a little dill and fresh tomato is great. Or just plain. I love it.

                                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                                isn't an egg a PIT "protein in training"? :-))

                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  :) Yes it is.
                                                  I think AJS's protein are meat, chicken, seafood born.

                                                  I had to throw it in anyways. It is a great sandwich

                                            2. I do love a hummus and veggie sandwich. Also, peanut butter and banana. I bet you do too.

                                              11 Replies
                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                Hummus yes, peanut-butter and banana, no. I like peanut butter with spicy, savoury things.

                                                1. re: lagatta

                                                  In that case, add bacon to the peanut butter and banana. It won't qualify for the no-meat sandwich discussed here, but it surely is good.

                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                    Oh man, peanut butter and bacon grilled in a skillet like a grilled cheese. Delicious.

                                                    1. re: fern

                                                      Sorry, can't get that one. pb and bacon. No.

                                                      1. re: kchurchill5

                                                        Sounds kooky, I know. But I tell you, kchurchill5, it is GOOD. If you like both ingredients, you just might be surprised! It does sound kind of gross, I'll grant you. :)

                                                        1. re: fern

                                                          Hey never know. I try most anything, not picky here ... expect for liver, :)

                                                          Love both.

                                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                                            Try the combo on an everything bagel. It's my favorite sandwich - and I eat turkey bacon.

                                                        2. re: kchurchill5

                                                          Honestly, it is really quite good. I threw one together on toast for a quick, portable sandwich before a trip once.

                                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                                            scargod convinced jfood to try PB on a hot dog. well jfood was game but it did not make it for jfood. not sure bacon and PB would do it for jfood either.

                                                            Now if scargod is reading this jfood carmelized some vidalia for a couple of hours and split an HN dinner frank and grilled under a brick. Some of those onions down the middle, some good old guldens and some sally sherman potato salad and macaroni salad on the side was a fantastic dinner.

                                                            1. re: kchurchill5

                                                              bacon makes everything better and yes, it is wonderful with pb

                                                      2. re: sueatmo

                                                        Hummus and roasted tomato sammich on crusty bread. YUM!

                                                      3. Besides BLTs and turkey sandwiches made late on Thanksgiving night and again the next day, most of my favorites do not have meat. Oh, forgot about tuna sandwiches. Love them, too.

                                                        We grew up eating cheese sandwiches often and our parents liked good cheese and bread so that was always delicious.
                                                        Cream cheese, stuffed olive, and walnut sandwich spread
                                                        Tomato sandwiches
                                                        Peanut butter and jelly or pickles

                                                        1. I don't think a sandwich needs a protein. I once had a lovely sandwich of grilled peppers, grilled asparagus, and cucumber on whole wheat that was completely satisfying. And I regulary eat tomato sandwiches with mayo, salt & pepper and sometimes lettuce. And I also eat radish sandwiches with butter and salt.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: KristieB

                                                            We human's require small amounts of 14 nutritionally complete amino acids, called proteins, during the day to maintain normal functions and rebuild our bodies. For proper nutrition the incomplete grain proteins in bread need to be complimented with other protein containing foods.

                                                            Meat and cheese are not proteins, but they contain complete proteins, so they provide nutritionally adequate nourishment, one of the reasons we all eat. Therefore, with about an ounce of Swiss cheese the sandwich in ajs's post is nutritionally adequate.

                                                          2. I like vegetable sandwiches on vacation, but they can be "dry." In such cases I think you need at least a slice of good cheese or a bit of mayo, both of which hav protein, though I would not necessarily classify them as such. When I was dirt poor in college I subsisted on onion sandwiches for a while which were doable as long as they had moisture from mayo or butter. There is such a thing as too much moisture, though. Once when I could not afford onions, I settled for a sour cream sandwich. It might have been the most depressing day of my entire college experience.

                                                            1. We've been having the best year ever for backyard tomatoes- no bugs, no birds, no blossom end rot, just gorgeous baseball sized 'maters!

                                                              Two slices of white bread, a heavy slathering of Duke's mayo. tomato slices and a nice sprinkling of bacon salt- I've had little else in the last week or so, and don't plan to have anything else for a while!

                                                              1. More than happy to eat non-meat/fish sandwiches but generally do want some protein - cheese, egg, falafal or hummous - that sort of thing.

                                                                Try a mushroom "steak" sandwich. Grill or fry a large flat field mushroom - treat it exactly as you might a burger, with mustard, etc. I love this and never miss the meat.

                                                                1. Baked zuchinni, eggplant, spicy peppers and tomatoes in a light bread crumb crust topped with a fresh tomato sauce fresh onion slices, and then melted mozzarella and parm is an excellent sandwich served on a good baguette and then lightly toasted. Like a meat ball sub but no meat. Just great flavor.

                                                                  1. ajs228 - if you've ever downed a eggplant parm sub and thought "where's the meat?", you were either at the wrong place or you are indeed an unrepentant carnivore.

                                                                    in the veggie kingdom, eggplant is a terrific stand-in for meat. I'm serving one at our shop now with chevre, roasted red pepper, fresh basil, arugula, and hint of garlic aioli.

                                                                    another panini I'm fond of is broccoli rabe (rapini), sauteed with garlic, chickpea mashed with some hot pepper, and chopped olive or olive spread (or tapenade if you don't want to go full veggie). after grilling, the rabe compresses into a somewhat stringy/meaty texture with some toothiness to it. great flavor and texture.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                      I agree eggplant other veggies, mushrooms, etc are always very meaty and good. I certainly don't miss the meat.

                                                                      I love to saute chick peas with garlic, red pepper and onions and then lightly mash. I add pepperjack cheese and I like fresh spinach but broccoli rabe is great too, and chopped olives. Very similar. Sundried tomatoes are great too.

                                                                      I love your ideas. So yummy. I definitely don't need the meat.

                                                                    2. It doesn't even need bread for me- I can make tiny sandwiches with crackers, or on lettuce leaves.
                                                                      For a sandwich to really thrill me though, it has to hit that umami spot in my soul. If that happens meatlessly or without cheese, it's typically only a killer tomato sandwich.

                                                                      1. I grew up on new england baked bean sandwiches and chow mein sandwiches, so I think I was trained well for the Japanese genre of "starch sandwich": potato croquette sandwich, yakisoba sandwich, spaghetti sandwich, mashed potato and corn sandwich... In fact, these are probably the only kind of sandwiches I'd actually seek out nowadays!

                                                                        1. One of my favorite summer sandwiches is slices of good white bread, spread with Hellman's mayo, topped with thick slices of heirloom tomatoes and salt and pepper. It doesn't get much better than this.

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                            We have had Hellman's, s&p, and tomato sandwiches for lunch the last 2 days. SO good. I didn't have any white bread but they were still fantastic. No farmer's market this week due to the holiday so I have to wait until next week for more tomatoes! Won't be easy. I think about those sandwiches.

                                                                            1. re: fern

                                                                              I love a hearty grain, a good herb aioli, heirloom tomatoes and arugula is my fave. Lots of s/p too.

                                                                            2. re: pikawicca

                                                                              one of my grandfather's favorites is thin sliced onion with or without tomato depending on if they are ripe! all home grown for him, of course, he's a retired farmer. :)

                                                                              1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                Vidalia onion slices on bread with butter on one slice, mayo on the other, fresh parsley sprinkled over all. Good sandwich.

                                                                                We have farmers in the family, too. Few eat better.

                                                                            3. jfood's cafeteria has crappo meats so jfood usually asks for a panini with roasted veggies (zucc, red pepper eggplant portabello) plus some pesto and tapenade and a few slices of brie and grilled. Even for us meat lovers this combo makes a great sandwich.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. I was gonna say that I've had a few good avocado and sprouts sandwiches back when my hair was a foot longer and my belt a foot shorter, and then I remembered these were all slathered in real mayonnaise, which containeth the protein-rich Egg. And so are the tomato sandwiches I eat when the tomatoes are worth the trouble.

                                                                                I really do gravitate towards the high-protein end of the sandwich spectrum. My very favorite sandwich is liverwurst, Swiss cheese and hardboiled egg, again with the mayo, and that's a peck o' protein! And, ummm, fat as well.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                  Will, there's a tavern in either Monroe or New Glarus, WI (can't remember which) that sells a braunschweiger and limburger sandwich. I am *going* to get there one day. I know I could make it myself but it just wouldn't be the same. Enjoyed with a nice glass of beer, what a day, huh?

                                                                                  1. re: fern

                                                                                    A big dill pickle would go real nice with that.

                                                                                2. I love meat, but a cheese sandwich, to me, is wholly satisfying. Either cheddar and provelone on wheat with sprouts, tomato and red onion (and lots of mayo and mustard on wheat), or cream cheese, sprouts, cucumber and mustard on health nut bread. Or a pita with hummus, diced cucumbers, tomato, red onion and shredded carrots with a bit of greek vinagrette mixed in, topped with feta and kalamata olives.

                                                                                  1. Sorry, but when did Swiss cheese -- or any cheese stop being a protein?

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: chicgail

                                                                                      thank you! at least someone got this before I did.

                                                                                    2. A tomato sandwich -- with beautiful fresh just off the vine tomatoes -- is just about perfect.

                                                                                      Grilled vegetables layered with goat cheese on focaccia, wrapped and warmed just until the cheese gets all melty is terrific.

                                                                                      A marinated / grilled portobello mushroom sandwich on a bun with roasted red bell pepper, a tahini dressing, and muenster cheese.

                                                                                      I recently had a grilled "wrap" at a local joint, with artichoke hearts, onions and banana peppers and mushrooms, and provolone cheese. It was sensational.

                                                                                      The older I get, the less I "need" meat. But I grew up taking a cheese sandwich to school every day.