A variation of a ham and cheese sandwich that includes roast pork, the Cuban sandwich was a common lunch for workers in the cigar factories and sugar mills in Cuba. It’s made with crispy bread, pressed on a grill top, and held fast with oozing cheese and tangy pickles. We just had to remake this classic with compassion, and jackfruit fit the bill to take the place of the pork. A zesty marinade perks up this versatile, canned fruit. We like roasting the jackfruit—we think it deepens the flavors—but fry it in a pan if you prefer. Vegan sliced cheese is essential to the gooey, scrumptious texture of this sandwich—thank goodness there are so many brands to choose from! Complete this compassionate vegan Cuban jackfruit sandwich remake with a good “schmear” of spicy mustard and a crisp dill pickle.
Cuban Jackfruit Sandwiches [Vegan]
For the Jackfruit
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced, about 1 Tbsp
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, optional
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 (20-ounce) cans jackfruit in brine, drained and rinsed
For the Sandwich
To Make the Jackfruit
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking tray with parchment.
- In a large bowl, whisk together orange juice, lime juice, mayonnaise, syrup, tamari, garlic, cilantro, onion powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
- Use a food processor to chop the jackfruit. Alternatively, chop the jackfruit with a sharp knife. You may have to cut out hard centers of the jackfruit pieces and discard before chopping.
- Add chopped jackfruit to the bowl with the marinade. Mix well.
- Spread the jackfruit on the lined baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes until edges start to brown slightly.
To assemble the sandwiches:
- Split the bread and spread mustard liberally on both sides. Place one slice of cheese on the top of the roll and one on the bottom, then layer the sandwich with ham, pickles, and jackfruit in between.
- To cook, melt butter in a large pan (cast iron works well) over medium heat. Depending on the size of your pan, place one or two sandwiches in the pan and top with another heavy pan or pot, then put something heavy in the top pan or pot to help press the sandwiches down as they cook; canned beans or tomatoes work well.
- Sandwiches should be pressed to about half their original thickness. Cook for about 5 minutes per side, pressing down occasionally, until the sandwiches have flattened, the bread is toasted, and the cheese has melted. Alternatively, use an electric panini grill.
- Cut in half and serve immediately.