Book Bites: Wendy Wagner’s Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day!

Book Bites is Cooking the Books‘ more easygoing cousin. Authors talk about their book and share a recipe, all in one tasty bite.

The glorious Wendy Wagner joins us on the heels of her new book from Angry Robot! (Spoilers: I really enjoyed this book.)

An Oath of Dogs Excerpt | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

Excerpt |

Barnes and Noble Amazon


Wendy writes: When my daughter went vegan, lunch turned treacherous. We’d been vegetarian for years, but I hadn’t realized how many dairy and egg ingredients were hiding in my fridge—especially on the condiment shelf. Regular mayo? Eggs. Italian dressing? Parmesan cheese—or even anchovies! Just making a sandwich required a whole lot more label reading.

That’s why these two recipes are so handy. They don’t require any special ingredients (Vegenaise, I’m looking you) or weird techniques (for those of you intimidated by the words “press the tofu”). These are just simple, tasty sandwich fixings you can throw together from pantry staples when your vegan friends and family swing by.

Zippy Chickpea Salad

  • 1 can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)—DO NOT DRAIN YET
  • 2-3 tbs mild vinegar, like rice or white whine
  • about 1 tsp olive oil
  • mustard, sweet relish, pepper, agave nectar/sugar to taste

Tasty mix-ins: grated carrot, chopped onion, snipped chives, chopped dill pickles, chopped celery, diced red bell pepper

  1. Drain about a tablespoon of bean liquid into a mixing bowl. You can get rid of the rest. Give the chickpeas a rinse and put half of them in the bowl with the bean liquid and a tablespoon of vinegar. Mash well. Drizzle with about one teaspoon of olive oil and stir together. You want the stuff to look like slightly lumpy hummus. If it looks too dry, add a little more vinegar.
  2. Add the remaining chickpeas. Do a bit more mashing, just enough to break up the chickpeas into smaller bits—your goal is really just to break the beans into pieces that won’t roll out of your sandwich.
  3. Add a few squirts of mustard, a dollop of sweet pickle relish (that’s where the magic comes from!), and a little pepper. Taste it. If it’s too sour, tame the vinegar with a dash of agave nectar or a sprinkling of sugar. Stir to combine, then add any delicious mix-ins you have on hand. The more colorful the salad is, the more fun it is!
  4. You can serve this as a sandwich on bread (make sure your bread is free of honey, dairy, and egg products), or in lettuce cups, or even on top of pasta. This makes about 3 half-cup servings.
  5. If you need a heartier lunch, go Italian! For a delicious hot sandwich, sauté together sliced onions, peppers, mushrooms, and tender veggies like broccoli rabe or zucchini (okay, technically a fruit). You can add some canned beans for a protein boost. Pile the cooked veggies on a hoagie roll and top with marina sauce. Non-vegans can add cheese, but honestly, you won’t miss it.

Of course, a lot of pre-packaged marinara sauces contain cheese, so if you don’t have any suitable marinara, throw together this sauce.

Sassy Tomato Sauce

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can of tomatoes (undrained)
  • olive oil
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional) or a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce
  • salt
  • agave nectar or sugar; balsamic vinegar (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Oil a baking sheet (one with sides). Add the onion and red bell pepper; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast about 15-20 minutes, until they begin to brown in places.
  2. Add the undrained can of tomatoes and half of the minced garlic. Stir to combine and then cook uncovered for about another 10 minutes. The veggies should be soft and the tomato juices should be well reduced.
  3. Put the roasted veggies and tomatoes in the blender. Add the remaining garlic and the pepper flakes or hot sauce, if you’re using. Puree until smooth.
  4. Remove lid with caution. Steam is hot! Taste your sauce. If it’s not sassy enough, correct the flavorings—it may want a bit more salt, or if the tomatoes were too sour, a touch of sugar/agave nectar. (A splash of balsamic vinegar is a good tomato tamer, too.) You might want to add some basil if you have any.
  5. This sauce is great on sandwiches, pastas, polenta, and cooked veggies. It’s also a great base for tomato soup; just stir in a cup of half-and-half (for a non-vegan creamy treat) or vegetable broth.

Nothing made a weekend lunch feel glum like slapping hummus and a few soggy lettuce leaves on some bread and calling it a sandwich. Having a few superhero vegan sandwiches in my repertoire has really turned lunch around! I hope they make you feel more confident about inviting over your vegan friends and family for some afternoon adventures.


Wendy N. Wagner grew up in a rural Oregon town so small, it didn’t even have its own ZIP code. Her novels include An Oath of Dogs and the Pathfinder tie-in adventures Skinwalkers and Starspawn. Her short fiction has appeared in over forty venues, and she also works as an editor at the Hugo award-winning science fiction magazine, Lightspeed (and its sister in the horror genre, Nightmare). An avid tabletop gamer and gardener, she lives in Portland, Oregon, with her very understanding family; you can keep up with her at winniewoohoo.com.

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