I grew up eating Cuban Sandwiches… being the daughter of a Cuban, it was something I ate at least a few times a month. My dad would take us to La España or La Ceiba – two bakeries here in Puerto Rico where the best Cuban sandwiches were made back then… now the same can be said for Kasalta too.
Cuban sandwiches are now becoming very popular among US chefs – Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, among others have all sung the praises of the Cuban sandwiches. Traditionally they’re made with roasted pork, sliced cooked ham, crusty white criollo bread, mustard, pickles and Swiss cheese. There is a smaller version called Media Noche – same ingredients as the Cuban, but in a smaller sweet bread. This is the kind my sister and I had when we were growing up… and when the Media Noche is too small for your more adult appetite, you graduate to the Cuban.
Now that I am vegetarian, traditional Cuban sandwiches are not an option… so I have come up with my veggie version. I order these at any panadería in PR or Miami. And even though I prefer whole wheat, whole grain breads in my sandwiches, Cubans traditional or veggie versions taste better in regular white criollo bread. The crunch it has compared to a whole wheat version can’t be beat.
VEGGIE CUBAN SANDWICH
Criollo Bread Swiss Cheese Lettuce and Tomato Pickles Mustard
- When you go out an order, say you want a grilled cheese on criollo bread with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mustard.
If you want to prepare it yourself…
- Slice a 1/3 pound of criollo bread “baguette”. Slather the insides with yellow mustard. Place Swiss cheese on one side, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles on the other.
- Place in a pannini press or a George Foreman grill and press the sandwich so the bread toasts and the sandwich flattens a bit.
- You could press without the lettuce sand tomato and add them afterwards, but sometimes the cheese melts so much that it’s difficult to reopen to add the salad.
To me, the best way to wash down your Veggie Cuban sandwich is with a malta or a batido de mamey. No other drink makes it justice…
One final note… be wary of Cuban breads out there (Pan Cubano – as they are called in Miami) you need to order Puerto Rican bread. Why??? Cuban bread usually is made with lard. You run no such risk in PR as “pan de agua” or “pan criollo” is made with vegetable shortening. Something to watch out…