Sep 7, 2013

food trucks! bar-b-cuban sandwich

Here. We go. Again.

This is my fourth year participating in Vegan Month of Food. Before I get started, I'd like to send a shout-out to all the lovely people who make this extravaganza of vegan food not just possible, but incredibly fun. It seems there are more and more blogs participating every year! Welcome to all the new folks making their MoFo debut this year! Can't wait to check things out!

For the past three years, my theme has been veganizing restaurant foods. This year, I am veganizing food truck food. This is of course more challenging in the sense that not only have I not tasted any of these dishes, but in most cases, I haven't even seen any of them. Not to be deterred, I've done lots of research and I have a great imagination - hopefully that will be enough to fill in any gaps.

Food trucks have not only hit the foodie scene like a ton of bricks, but millions of people have tuned into The Great Food Truck Race on Food TV, for the fourth season in a row, making this show the network's second most watched program. 

The first two seasons of the show featured already established food trucks as the competitors, while the latter two seasons featured competitors who had never before had a food truck, however, some had already owned brick-and-mortar food places. 

Austin Daily Press, one of the first-season teams, still does a grooving business in Austin, and I am happy to report that they have vegetarian and vegan menu items. And I love their logo - as toasted as you are. They make paninis and toasted sandwiches, although not all of their sandwiches are actually hot, since not all sandwiches lend themselves to being toasted. 

I made my version of their Bar-B-Cuban Sandwich, which is a Cuban sandwich with smoked pork, ham, pickles, Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese and Carolina Mustard Sauce.

Let's talk bread. Authentic Cuban bread has a nice crust and a soft inside. Since it is also made with lard, I opted for a ciabatta bread, which has a great crust, especially when toasted.

Let's talk cheese. Daiya has added a new line of vegan cheese to their brand - slices. Perfect! Their Swiss-style vegan cheese was available at my Whole Foods and I snagged it up, along with a Follow Your Heart Cheddar-style cheese block. FYH takes about twice as long to melt than Daiya, so keep that in mind.

Let's talk meat. Or let's not! Along with the above mentioned cheese, my Whole Foods also had gorgeous oyster mushrooms available, for a great price, too- $6 a pound. That did it. I decided to use my stove-top smoker to smoke the mushrooms using hickory chips and they turned out fantastic. Lovely smoky flavor, but not overpoweringly so. 

Pickles + Carolina Mustard Sauce + Smoked Oyster Mushrooms + Mojo Artichoke Hearts

In addition to the mushrooms, I used artichoke hearts, which I found in packages in the produce section right near the mushrooms. Kismet. These are actually artichoke hearts, the very same ones you carve out of a steamed artichoke. Delicious. 

I cooked the mushrooms and artichokes in a screaming hot pan until they developed a golden brown color, after which I added orange and lime juice and spices - a mojo sauce, in essence. 

Let's talk sauce. Cuban food is not spicy as in hot, but instead is more sweet, salty and tangy. Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish, Caribbean and African with lots of citrus. The called for mustard sauce hits all those flavor notes. It is tangy because of the mustard and vinegar and sweet thanks to the maple syrup and brown sugar.

 This sandwich has all of those superb Cuban flavors. It is a surprisingly easy 'wich to put together, to boot, probably more so if you aren't the one having to reinvent it! 

Hope you enjoy as much as we did.

Makes 4 servings

3 tablespoon neutral oil, divided
Cuban Rub (recipe below)
1 (12- ounce) can artichoke hearts
1/4 cup minced onions
12 ounce smoked oyster mushrooms (see directions below)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
Loaf ciabatta bread
Vegan butter, as needed
Vegan cheese, as needed
Pickle slices, as needed
Carolina Mustard Sauce (recipe below)
Watercress, optional

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat. Sprinkle about half of the rub on the artichokes. Cook the artichoke hearts and onions until golden brown, turning the artichoke once. Remove the artichokes and onions from the skillet and set aside.
2. Heat another tablespoon of oil in the same skillet over high heat. Sprinkle the rest of the rub on the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms until golden brown, turning them once. Remove the mushrooms from the skillet and set aside.
3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until golden brown. Add the orange and lime juice to the pan. Increase the heat to high and cook until the juice is reduced to a syrup; reducing it by half. Pour over the artichokes.
4. Slice the bread in half. Butter each half of the bread. Layer the filling: cheese, mushrooms, artichokes, pickles, Carolina Mustard Sauce, watercress, more cheese. Top with the other half of bread. Grill the sandwich (cut it in half if the sandwich is too big to fit in a press or skillet) in a panini press or in a large skillet. If using the skillet, weigh the sandwich down with another heavy skillet. Serve immediately. 

Cuban Rub

2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon dried oregano

Combine all the rub ingredients in a small bowl.

Carolina Mustard Sauce

¼ cup vegan mayo
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ketchup
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk to combine

Smoking Tips

I smoke oyster mushrooms, but you can smoke any kind of mushroom you like. Trim the mushrooms and slice them into ½-inch slices if they are too big.

Using an indoor smoker, use hickory chips. Cover the smoker tightly with foil to prevent any smoke from escaping. Smoke the mushrooms for 30 minutes. 

© 2013 Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.


  1. Can you have this delivered to an undisclosed location?
    GiGi Loves mustard and pickles and all the fixings from this truck.

    1. Heck yeah! I'll guess where the undisclosed location is, GiGi's friend.

  2. I want one of these NOW wow looks awesome!


Thanks for your comment! I'll check if it's spam and post if it is not. I appreciate your time and effort for commenting! ~ Zsu