Copycat Panera Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich Recipe + 5 Tips to Build a Better Sandwich

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Copycat Panera Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich Recipe is a winner with vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Plus don’t miss my 5 Tips to Build a Better Sandwich!

First thing’s first, THANK YOU to everyone who came out to Panera last night!! Writing a blog often feels very one-sided (there’s back and forth communication via comments, of course) so it’s nice to meet the people who’ve been reading what you’ve been putting out there for so long in person. I thought it was just awesome, and appreciated it so much!

Before the meet-up, Panera asked me to give a little 10 minute presentation (well, it was supposed to be 10 minutes, but I was so nervous it ended up being about 5!) to some folks on my tips for building a better sandwich, as part of a sandwich workshop they were hosting to promote their Sandwich Showdown Contest. (Got that?) ;)

Anyways I thought heck, since my tips are already written (and permanently etched in my brain from practicing my speech so many times) I might as well share them with you all, then post the recipe for my favorite Panera sandwich of all time, the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich!

The “Med Veg”, as I like to call it, starts with Panera’s incredible Tomato Basil bread, which is stuffed with layers of thinly sliced fresh veggies, jalapeno-cilantro hummus, feta cheese, and a surprise ingredient – peppadew peppers. This is a surprise because I HATE peppers, but I LOVE these peppers. They’re a little bit sweet, a little bit spicy, and totally make this sandwich!

First though…

5 Tips to Build a Better Sandwich

1. Start with Good Bread

  • Slice at home: Start with a good quality loaf of bread, then slice it thickly at home. Pre-sliced bread is often very thin, which doesn’t hold up well to a lot of toppings, and tends to fall apart if pressed on a panini press. Some of my favorite breads to buy for both hot & cold sandwiches are sourdough, focaccia, ciabatta, baguettes, and the aforementioned Tomato Basil bread from Panera.
  • Read the label: If you do buy pre-sliced bread from the store, and are looking to go the whole-wheat route, make sure 100% Whole Wheat is the first ingredient listed in the ingredient list. The bread aisle is filled with so many confusing buzzwords – 100% whole wheat, 9-grain, whole grain – which I can never keep straight, so look for 100% Whole Wheat listed first, and you should be good to go.
  • Think outside the loaf: A great sandwich doesn’t have to be made with 2 slices of bread. Some of my favorite sammies are made on pretzel bread or rolls, ciabatta rolls, bagels, english muffins, and wraps!

2. Choose Quality Meats and Cheeses

  • Ditch the package: Visit the deli counter at your grocery store for deli meats, instead of buying the stuff that’s pre-packaged. The meats at the deli counter are fresher, and you can also find healthier, nitrate/nitrite-free, and low-sodium options.
  • Use leftovers: Sandwiches don’t always have to revolve around deli meats. Try using roasted or grilled chicken breasts, meatloaf, or even grilled steak to build your sandwiches. One of my favorite sandwiches in the world is thinly sliced leftover grilled steak layered on a crusty baguette smeared with herbed chevre, then topped with caramelized onions and pressed on a panini press. MMM!
  • Experiment with cheese: I love experimenting with cheese in sandwiches. Visit Whole Foods’ cheese counter (if you can!) where they’ll let you try any cheese you like, and recommend a good cheese for what you’re planning on including in your sandwich. Some of my favorites to use in sandwiches are brie, fontina, and chevre. Feta and bleu cheese crumbles are really good too!

3. Add Something Fresh or Unexpected

  • Fresh is best: In addition to the traditional fresh toppings of tomato, lettuce, and onion, try adding something crisp to your sandwich like cucumber or sprouts, creamy like avocado, spicy like jalapeno, or sweet like sliced apples, peaches, or strawberries. Whatever you add, be sure to slice it very thin, otherwise your bread can get soggy.
  • Add the unexpected: Ingredients like marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, prosciutto, kalamata olives, or bacon add big flavor to any sandwich.

4. Get Saucy

  • Get creative: Sauces tie all the ingredients in a sandwich together into one, cohesive dish. Since mayo and mustard are banned from my house (per Ben’s gag reflexes) we get creative with adding sauces like guacamole, hummus, pesto, and even salad dressing to our sandwiches.
  • Sweet & savory: Try schmearing on a sweet sauce like fig preserves, pumpkin or apple butter, or fruit chutneys to add a nice contrast to any savory sandwich. This works especially well with any sandwich involving the aforementioned salty BACON.

5. KISS

  • Less is more: Sure, a good sandwich can have 10+ ingredients, but in my experience, a GREAT sandwich usually has 5-6 ingredients, max. Flavors and textures tend to get muddled when there’s too many players on the field, so to speak, so just remember that sometimes less is more.

Honorable Mention: Slice on the Diagonal

  • Ben demanded that I add in this final tip for making a great sandwich, and that is to slice your sandwiches on the diagonal. This, according to him, makes any sandwich infinitely better. I couldn’t make this stuff up, people (although I can’t say I disagree!) ;)

During last night’s workshop Panera’s Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich, which follows all 5 tips for building a better sandwich, was demo’d by the locations head chef for everyone in attendance to try. As I watched each fresh ingredient pile on top of one another, I thought to myself, hey, I could totally make this at home!

So I did. And I loved it! And so will you. :)

Start the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich with 2 slices of Panera’s Tomato Basil Bread. I HEART this bread for it’s high squish factor, and for the tiny bit of cinnamon-streusel that’s baked on top, which adds a touch of sweet to each slice.

Next smear each slice with hummus. Now, Panera uses cilantro-jalapeno hummus but all I could find at the store was jalapeno hummus, which still tasted amaze. I could have added in a little cilantro with a food processor I suppose, but, meh, this was totally fine! Next add a few slices of crunchy lettuce.

On top of that goes a few thin tomato slices. On the other piece of bread, layer on thinly sliced cucumbers. Again, the name of the game here is THIN slices of whatever ingredients you are adding to a sandwich!

Next add thin rings of red onion, and a spoonful of crumbled feta cheese.

Finally, add zee star of zee Med Veg sandwich – peppadew peppers!

“Peppadew” is actually the brand name of the pepper, not the type. It’s sweet and hot at the same time and seriously knocks my socks off. I got these at the Whole Foods olive bar, but I think I’ve seen them in my regular grocery store, too. Just chop a couple up, then pile ‘em on.

Press the two sides together, then stick a toothpick in each side for some flare.

Finally, slice the sandwich in two (sorry Ben, this sandwich is the one exception to your rule!) then serve!

Panera’s Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich

Print this recipe!

Serves 1

Ingredients:
2 slices Panera Tomato Basil bread
2-3 Tablespoons jalapeno hummus
fresh lettuce
thinly sliced tomato
thinly sliced cucumber
thinly sliced red onion
1-2 Tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
2 Peppadew peppers, chopped

Directions:

  1. Spread both slices of bread with hummus, then layer on lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, and peppadew peppers. Slice sandwich in half and serve.

If you have never tried this sandwich, then you are in for such a treat. I’ve told you before that I’m not normally a cold sandwich person, but this baby can compete with the best of paninis!

Awesome for vegetarians and meat eaters alike, this sammie make a great lunch (the hummus will create a barrier so the bread doesn’t get soggy from the veggies) or dinner, served with a piece of fruit, side salad, or cup of soup.

Enjoy! :D

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Comments

  1. I recently got a panini press (well… I sort of stole it from my boyfriend’s apartment. He wasn’t using it, I promise!) and it’s probably the best thing that ever happened in my kitchen, besides maybe the crock pot. Cold sammies just aren’t my thing – the panini press always makes them infinitely better!

  2. I actually just entered a sandwich into Panera’s contest – tons of fun!

  3. Liz 10.03.2012

    I agree with Ben. Slicing sandwiches diagonally makes all the difference!
    It was nice meeting you yesterday! My sister was very jealous of the picture I got with you:)

  4. I love all of these tips! I make veggie sandwiches a lot, and totally agree that hummus is amaaaazing in them. I love adding roasted red pepper as a stand-in for sliced meat! Gives it lots of flavor and is still filling!

  5. Diane 10.03.2012

    Thank you for this sandwich!!! I actually don’t like hot sandwiches (except for a good Chicago Italian Beef, of course), so am thrilled to have another option to make at home!
    Love, love, love your blog. And I’m pretty much an old lady, since my daughter is prob your age. But hey, what is wisdom if not being able to learn from others, no matter their age? Keep up the good work, Kristin!

  6. Michelle 10.03.2012

    Thanks for highlighting this sandwich! It is my favorite from Panera, too. Can’t wait to make it at home.

  7. Jessica 10.03.2012

    Trader Joe’s has Cilantro Jalepeno Hummus. It’s delicious!

  8. Sarah 10.03.2012

    Yummy! My favorite sandwich at Panera is their frontega chicken!

  9. Kim 10.03.2012

    My husband insists his sandwiches have to be cut diagonally or they just don’t taste as good! :) If you want to try the Cilantro Jalapeno hummus, Trader Joe’s has some and it is amazing!

  10. jennyv 10.03.2012

    My husband & I totally agree w/ slice on the diagonal — a must! Anyway, so wish I could’ve made the Panera meet-up yesterday — sorry to have missed it!

  11. Barbara 10.03.2012

    Yum! I have never tried this sandwich but I am also a HUGE fan of paneras tomato bread! Ive made my own at home, and its good, but not THAT good. I love roasted red peppers, and have seen peppadew peppers next to the jars of roasted, and now I have an excuse to try them!

    Also, do you have a hummus recipe that you like to make? This would probably also be good with homemade pesto.

  12. Lauren 10.03.2012

    This post is adorable. Kudos to Panera lately for their increase marketing approach. I’ve noticed a HUGE increase in their visibility and the effects of their menu. I am loving the bright new colors, real photography and the heart-felt commercials. I guess it’s the marketing background in me, but I always appreciate when a company puts emphasis on their advertising tactics.

  13. Nicole 10.03.2012

    This looks very good. I like that is different from your normal turkey/ham sandwich. You can get tired of those quickly. i also like that this veggie sandwich is pretty health. GREAT tips. I’m always making sandwiches for lunch, and again I always make the same turkey sandwich. Now I’ve got some great tips/ideas to make lunch more enjoyable. thanks!

  14. Nicole 10.03.2012

    Oh by the way you mentioned that you buy different types of bread like focaccia and ciabatta. Do you normally buy your breads form a speciality store like Panera? Or do you get them from the grocery store? If so what grocery store and brand do you normally get?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.04.2012

      I get them from Panera, or from the bakery section at the grocery store. I used to get them from Great Harvest, but the location near me closed last year. :(

  15. Cher @ Weddicted 10.03.2012

    We just got a Panera bread 45 minutes from where I live in Canada.. I went there with my mother in law the other day and we were SO impressed. I could not decide what to get! And their desserts – wow!!

    And my husband agrees with Ben, too. If I cut a grilled cheese in half and not diagonally, he literally whines like a baby.

  16. Em 10.03.2012

    Great tips! And I love that you included an honorable mention :)

  17. Glad that your meet up went great! That bread looks amazing! Really good tips; I especially like the one about adding something fresh, like fruit.

  18. Monica 10.03.2012

    I love Ben’s thinking on diagonal cuts because my hubby always says cutting a sandwich diagonally makes it 30% better. I agree. So Ben’s not alone!

  19. Rebecca 10.03.2012

    That is hands down my favorite sandwich at Panera! A couple weeks ago I bought the tomato basil bread to make this sandwich. Unfortunately the next day I came home and my dog had gotten to it and ate the ENTIRE loaf!! Idk if your pictures show how big this loaf is, but it was the size of two regular loaves of bread! I was sooooo mad/sad/disappointed/devastated. Still waiting on my sandwich.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.04.2012

      That is so horrible – I would be so devastated too!! And you’re right, the loaf is HUGE. Hope your pup is ok!

  20. Going to have to agree with your husband…there’s something so fancy about a sandwich sliced on the diagonal. :-)

  21. Kristi 10.03.2012

    I TOTALLY had this sandwich tonight! It’s so yummy. One alternative to the tomato basil bread is Panera’s whole grain option. It makes the sandwich take on a more nutty flavor that’s a fun change!

  22. Hannah 10.03.2012

    Being a vegetarian, that is my go-to sandwich at Panera…love it!

  23. Holy Moly! I need one right away. It looks so good. I suppose a trip to Panera is in my future.

  24. Mandy 10.03.2012

    Ooh, that looks so fresh and good!

    My sandwich secret? Add avocado. Always.

  25. Love Panera! I also like my sandwiches cut diagonally :)

  26. Great tips! A simple sandwich is one of my favourite lunches.

  27. kiki 10.04.2012

    Jalapeno Hummus is my favorite! That sandwich is perfection.

  28. I’m with Ben. The diagonal slice makes a sandwich so much easier to eat. Starting in on the smaller corners ensures that you won’t end up with sandwich all over your face.

  29. brenda 10.04.2012

    Yep – I have t side with Ben on this one: slice on the diagonal! :)

  30. sarah 10.04.2012

    Great tips to read and try at home. I miss Panera sandwiches since I’m back in Europe….would you have any tips for the chipotle style burrito? I miss that too …

  31. That sandwich is perfect! I love crusty bread with soft centers for sandwiches. It’s the best. Yum!!!

  32. Bethany 10.04.2012

    Unfortunately, here in AZ, we do not have Panera Bread. ;( I’ll have to look into other possible places to snag some of this delicious sounding bread!

    • Panera John 10.04.2012

      Hi Bethany,

      Not sure what part of Arizona you’re in, but our sister company, Paradise Bakery (www.paradisebakery.com) has a wide selection of fresh breads (including our Tomato Basil). Hopefully you’re not too far from one.

      Kristin’s Friend from Panera, John

  33. Luann 10.04.2012

    I didn’t read through all the comments so maybe someone already said this but I just wanted to let you know that Trader Joe’s has a cilantro-jalapeno hummus and it is REALLY good. It actually was the first hummus I’ve ever tried that I liked and am now hooked. Just wanted to share the love. :) I’m sad I didn’t get to come on Tuesday but am happy you had a good turn out. By the way, Heidi fixed your Starbuck’s clone pumpkin scones and they were to.die.for. Seriously! So so so good!! I wasn’t sure how many WW points they would be so just used the nutrition count from Starbucks. They are pricey when it comes to points I have to give up….13 and I only get 33 for the day….but they were worth every point I put in my mouth!! Some things are just worth giving up the points for. :)

  34. Slicing sandwiches on the diagonal TOTALLY makes them taste better! I’m so happy to have found others who share my sentiment. ;)
    This sandwich does look amazing. Too bad we don’t have Panera here in Canada, but I could certainly recreate this at home!

  35. Life's a Bowl 10.04.2012

    Haha, my husband has the same request as Ben- maybe it’s a sign of manliness?! This is one of my faveee sandwiches from Panera and I’ve made a similar version myself minus the bread… The bread definitely makes the sandwich!

  36. I love that you said to look for 100% whole wheat. They try to get really sneaky…9 grain or multi-grain doesn’t mean it’s goof for you! :) Great post!

  37. Crafting Play 10.04.2012

    Sandwiches cut diagonally DO taste better. I’ve been saying it for years…my husband thinks I’m nuts!

  38. char eats greens 10.04.2012

    This is always the sandwich I get at Panera (and actually had one last week!), but making it at home seems so easy that I feel like I don’t have to go there again (yet, I will haha).

    I got it on whole grain bread last time, which could have been a mistake. I need to retry it on the original bread!! I love the addition of the peppers they put on too!

  39. Panera John 10.04.2012

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! … for coming out to share your expertise with our customers! You really added a special touch to our event, and I can’t thank you enough. It was great to finally meet Ben… I’ll see if I can’t bubble his diagonal tip all the way up to the top. :) I’m sure operationally we don’t do it due to the number of folks ordering YP2′s… but if he’s ever in to order a full sandwich we’ll be happy to perfect it with the diagonal cut! Cheers!

  40. Katie 10.04.2012

    Your food pictures always look AMAZING! You’re making me crave a sandwich like it’s nobody’s business right now.

  41. This is my one and only sandwich option at Panera. Great sandwich and great bread. I definitely love that you put bread at the top of the list. It definitely can make or break a sandwich right from the get go.

  42. Brenda 10.05.2012

    I think Panera will have a run on tomato basil bread now! you made me want to run out and buy some! Happy Friday!! Can’t wait to see your picks.

  43. Mindy 10.09.2012

    I keep meaning to tell you how much my daughter and I enjoyed meeting you last week at Panera (she’s the one that just graduated from Wartburg). Thanks so much for sticking around late to talk with us. I think you inspired Kindra to cook because the next day she made delicious cookies. Have to start somewhere, so it might as well be sweets! :)

    Thanks for all of your beautiful pictures and amazing recipes. We’ve loved everything that we’ve made from your blog.

    Keep those petite clothes suggestions coming for us shorties!

    Mindy & Kindra Hook

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.11.2012

      I enjoyed meeting both of you so much, and thank you again for staying so late!! :) Love that Kindra made some cookies the day after too. Like you said, everybody’s got to start somewhere! :)

  44. Elizabeth N. 12.02.2012

    I was browsing your site today and ran into this post and I about freaked. The Panera Mediterranean veggie sandwich is one of my top three favorite sandwiches of all time and I have to order it everytime I go to Panera. I am so excited to have a recipe for it now. I think this automatically makes you my favorite blog ever.

  45. Ann Mazzoli 01.12.2013

    Just curious what type of lettuce that is? Boston? Or is it just romaine and I can’t tell cuz it’s just one piece?

  46. [...] I am attempting to recreate Panera’s Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich. This is one of my favorite sandwiches- hope it turns out just like [...]

  47. Oh. My. Gosh. This is brilliant! This I will *have* to try! (And your photos? Just gorgeous! Loved the bright, friendly colors!) ::grin::

    mysunkissedfarm.wordpress.com

  48. Marie 05.07.2013

    THANKS! I love this sandwich…I never get tired of it. With soup in the winter and on it’s own in the summer. It is the BEST! Now I can create it at home when I can’t get to Panera.

  49. [...] Panera’s Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich Recipe + Tips to Build a Better Sandwich [...]

  50. Gail 07.24.2013

    I just ate another of Panera’s wonderful Mediterranean Veggie sandwiches and decided I needed to be able to make it at home. I’ve look a several different sites and this one looks the best by far! Thank you!

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