Veggie Cuban Sandwich

5 Mar

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.



Criollo Bread
Swiss Cheese
Lettuce and Tomato
  1.  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…

  1. 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.
  2. Place in a pannini press or a George Foreman grill and press the sandwich so the bread toasts and the sandwich flattens a bit. 
  3. 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…

10 Responses to “Veggie Cuban Sandwich”

  1. Mary March 6, 2009 at 5:37 pm #

    Yum…this looks great! I enjoy reading your blog and seeing all the wonderful recipes…maybe someday I’ll take the plunge and become a vegetarian…I know for health reasons, I’d be much better off.

  2. Melvin Rivera March 7, 2009 at 10:55 pm #

    ¡Como me gustan tus recetas y comentarios! Adelante enseñándonos que comer vegano no es comer aburrido.

  3. george April 2, 2009 at 2:57 pm #

    correcting her coments about cuban and puerto rican bread. it is basically the same. cuban and spaniard\cubans are responsible for todays breads in puerto rico. the most popular cuban bread is pan de agua”water base” and pan de manteca only if you requested it, as a matter of fact no one prepairs a cuban in lard bread thats a crime and the only bread that is used to make a cuban its called pan de flauta wich is water based. I hate when people talk without knowing the topic.Cubans make a great variety of breads no just lard bread. by the way pan criollo is cuban bread.
    Learn your breads please!! thank you
    The king of Cuban sandwich.

    KFC – I will reply to your comment to show I do read and post reader’s comments even if they are not in agreement with my commentary.

    As a blogger who is trying to spread some knowledge about vegetarianism, I feel the responsibility to write about what I KNOW. If I do not know about it, most likely I would not write about it. And what I know, I have learned through experience and research, not just reading about it.

    I agree with you the terms “pan de agua”, “pan de flauta”, “pan criollo” can very much be used interchangeably. And bakeries or “panaderias” traditionally run by Cubans/Spaniards, at least in Puerto Rico, have some of the best breads of this type available. In Puerto Rico, when I have asked bakers at Kasalta, La Espana, La Ceiba they use vegetable shortening instead of lard to make their bread. I do not ask people “Do you use lard??” because that gives people a way to answer how they think I want to be answered. I rather ask people “How do you make this delicious bread” and people will more than likely reveal all their secrets. I have heard my grandma call these breads “pan de manteca”, a term you no longer hear, at least not in the Metro SJ area. My take is that back in the day pan criollo was actually made with lard, but its manufacture has now evolved to use vegetable shortenings.

    However, I do not know where you are located, but it has been my experience in my travels to Miami/Hialeah, where my Cuban family lives, that they make a distinction between Cuban and Puerto Rican breads. To me they’re basically the same in appearance, but when you read the list of ingredients in these so-called Cuban breads, they list LARD as one of their ingredients and the breads packaged as Puerto Rican do not. The ingredients list on the bag is a government requirement, as you, the KING of the Cuban Sandwich should know. I have bought these Cuban breads for my aunt in a Cuban corner panaderia, I have bought them in a Publix and in a Winn Dixie and they all mention LARD as the ingredient.

    I feel it is my RESPONSIBILITY to communicate this to my audience, you among them. WHY??? Because if I am educating about vegetarianism, I need to let people know that it is important to read ingredient lists and it is important to know how the products you consume are made. And that if people wish to taste this Veggie Cuban Sandwich featured people need to be weary of the bread they order. I have made the regretable mistake to buy this “cuban” bread with lard and having to throw it away after reading the ingredient list. Not telling you and the rest of my audience would have been irresponsible on my part.

    So I would suggest you actually educate yourself more about this subject before ranting about it in my blog. And by the way… when critizing other people, it helps to know how to spell correctly too…

  4. Adriana June 22, 2009 at 3:06 pm #

    OMG, I NEVER knew your Dad was Cuban.
    If I hadn’t already boxed my Nitza Villapol recipe – the Queen of Cuban Cooking – I’d look up the recipe of the Pan.

    KFC – se puede saber en que mundo tu vivías?? It must be you forgotten… now you get why I called my recipe Frutabomba Milkshake??

  5. Bren July 21, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    great response to the king of Cuban Sandwich by the way, though I’m not one to meddle… In any case, as you know I don’t eat cerdo so my own island’s sandwich is not an option for me either. I have to make my own bread where lard is not an option and use turkey to make it somewhat similar… i like the inclusion of lechuga but I’d prolly opt out!🙂

    • KarmaFree Cooking July 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

      Whenever you’re in Miami… order it on Puerto Rican bread. When u visit me in Puerto Rico, we can go to Kasalta, the place where I met President Obama, and I can order a Veggie Cuban, you can order your Cuban version with just turkey and both on lard-free criollo bread… OK??? But I have a feeling you will enjoy my veggie-full version better!!!😉

  6. Trebol July 25, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    The problem about breads in Puerto Rico is not the lard or the vegetable oil they use on making breads, is that ALL the bread flour sold contain Potassium Bromate, they should list all the ingredients of the flour in the bag, but they dont, its illegal, some big companies do, but Panaderias buy the regular bag for Pan Criollo or Pan sobao without all the ingredients. U just read, Harina, sal, azucar, levadura, manteca or aceite vegetal and agua. Potassium Bromate help in strengthening the gluten, for easy manage of the dough, but sometimes that bread make you feel acidez. Then they have the “mejorador de masa” thats go in to the recipe that contain more potassium bromate, above the law, because the flour contain the legal limit of 30ppm plus the “mejorador de masa”. Potassium bromate its illegal almost in the whole world, except Puerto Rico, US and some noodles in Japan.
    The same happen in the pizza industry in Puerto Rico. I have been following the bread industry for years, this is a something very serious in the island. Any help running the voice to stop using Potassium Bromate will be apreciate. Salud.

  7. Henry Martinez October 24, 2011 at 2:06 am #

    Bless you. I am a Cuban-American, love my traditional food, but am transitioning to vegetarian. I was wondering if we could still have our Cuban dishes “vegetarianized” and your version of a Sandwiche Cubano gave me hope!

  8. Tricia January 31, 2013 at 3:32 am #

    I use the Gardein Pulled Pork, Lite Life Smart Deli Ham (veggie) slices, swiss, pickles, mustard…

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