Gardener’s Sandwich – a.k.a Vegetarian Shooter’s Sandwich

Serves: 4-6
Cost: ~€4.70
Preparation and cooking time: ~40 minutes + 24 hours
Calories: ~680 per quarter

Hi everyone. All being well, this time next week I’ll be in England but that  certainly doesn’t mean I’ll be absent. I’ll be sticking to my regular posting schedule and showing you some photos of my travels along the way. I’ve got something great in store for my next post and as for the one after that? Well – I’m hoping to actually get some cooking done in England in my parents’ kitchen. It’s been a long, long time since I cooked there so that should be fun. I’m not quite sure what I’ll make yet but I’ll let the English countryside inspire me!

It occurred to me that I haven’t shown you how much my son has grown in a couple of months. He’s now proudly sitting in a high-chair and eating meals with the “big people”. He seems to enjoy a great deal so far. We’re introducing him to solids by two methods. Regular puréed food which I make myself and also baby-led weaning. As a result, we’ve discovered that he seems to really, really enjoy cucumber. You put a stick of that in front of him and he’ll go nuts with it. In terms of purées he has enjoyed most of the things we’ve tried him with, including a pumpkin and chicken purée (which was delicious, even if I do say so myself… and no… I didn’t steal his meal! :D). Most surprisingly was hummus. I forgot to salt a batch of hummus once and decided to give him some to see if he took to it. I was concerned the strong garlic flavour might turn him off a bit but he was crazy for it. Perhaps he’ll be as fanatical about the chickpea dip as yours truly some day!

He loves to watch me in the kitchen and we had a wonderful afternoon the other day. The air was fresh, I was busying myself making… something – I forget what – and we had some good ol’ father son time in the kitchen together. He’s now got two little teeth poking through in his bottom gum as well, which he delights in digging in to errant fingers if he can get his little paws on them.

It's dinner time

On to today’s recipe – I posted my recipe for a shooter’s sandwich not long ago. A delightful sandwich of steaks and mushroom sauce, crammed into a hollowed out bread loaf and flattened overnight, before being cut into wedges. Great for taking on picnics because it’s squashed already – it’s supposed to be squashed, but what for the poor vegetarians out there? Or maybe you just don’t feel like eating meat today… or maybe you don’t want to spend a small fortune on two giant steaks?

Fear not – this sandwich is fast becoming one of my favourites, and I think I even prefer it to its meatier brother. It’s not a shooter’s sandwich though. In shape alone, maybe, but the ingredients couldn’t be more different so I took the liberty of coining a new name – “Gardener’s Sandwich”. In case you make this though and think the name sounds silly then do feel free to just say it’s a “vegetarian” shooter’s sandwich instead, and make it you should – it’s very, very good!

Vegetarian Shooter's Sandwich

Enjoy the remainder of the post folks – I’ll be back in a few days, hopefully from England, with something not very English at all. Oh the irony!

Gardener’s Sandwich


Gardener's Sandwich ingredients

  • 1 round “boule” style loaf of bread – around 400g
  • ~200g Mozzarella Cheese
  • 4 Tomatoes
  • 2 small Aubergines
  • 4tbsps Pesto (home-made or ready-made)
  • 3tbsps Olive Oil


  1. Start off by washing the aubergines and trimming away the tops and bottoms. Cut them into thick slices – about 8mm thick. Using a pastry brush, brush the aubergine slices all over with olive oil and then heat a large pan on the stove. Once hot, fry the aubergine slices on both sides until soft and golden brown.
    Chopping the aubergine
  2. Wash the tomatoes and remove the woody part from the centre. Cut them into slices as well, before finally slicing the mozarella cheese.
    The Sandwich Filling
  3. Cut a large “lid” out of the top of the loaf of bread and scoop as much of the soft innards away from the crust as you can, both on the main loaf and the lid, so you’re left with a bread bowl. Next, spread half of the pesto all over the inside of the loaf and then layer in your tomato, mozzarella and aubergine. I place in the tomato first, then the mozzarella, and then finally the aubergines, pressing everything down between each layer. Finally, spread the remaining pesto over the top of the filling.
    The gardener's sandwich, without a lid
  4. Place the bread “lid” back on top of the loaf and wrap the loaf in baking paper, secured with string. Cover the wrapped loaf with foil and then place under a heavy weight. Press down until the loaf is even and flat and leave, still weighed down,  in a cool place overnight. I used a cast-iron Dutch oven filled with extra weights.
    Weighing down the sandwich
  5. The next day, unwrap your sandwich and cut into wedges before enjoying! You may find that because of the tomato, the bread might be a little soggy in places. You can combat this by heating a large frying pan until very hot. Place the whole sandwich in the pan and “toast” for a minute or so on each side. This will have the added advantage of melting the cheese slightly.
    Vegetarian Shooter's Sandwich


  1. says

    Hi Charles, I really love the look and sound of this delightful combo of flavours. I’m definitely bookmarking this for one of our on the road to/from the cottage meals. It also doesn’t look like a lot of bread either.
    William is a splitting image of you! He’s absolutely adorable; and looks like he’s got an easy going personality. My nephew Jack was introduced to food the same way, by one he was asking to everything at the table, loving Hungarian salami the best (lucky little guy enjoyed that at my Aunte and Uncles table in Budapest).
    I love the look of your blog, but you should know it doesn’t optimize for my smart phone.
    Have fun on your holidays!

    • says

      Hi Eva, thanks a lot – it’s not a lot of bread, no. It provides just a nice little “shell” around the yumminess inside :)

      When you say it doesn’t “optimize” for your phone, please could you be more specific? Does it look broken or not load correctly? I took care to make sure it worked on my phone and it loads perfectly on mine, although admittedly my screen on my phone is huge. At least it should work better than the old theme. I’d hacked that so much that it had all sorts of script problems when loading.

  2. says

    Oh my goodness Charles, look at your boy! He’s all grown up, and those curls… I can’t focus on the sandwich anymore… ;-). Up early today catching up on work and couldn’t resist dropping in to say hello. William has definitely put a smile on my face – a budding foodie I’d say! I love that you make your own food for him. Isn’t it fun? My boys’ favourite was avocado and cottage cheese – I tell you, the sooner you introduce them to ‘real’ food as you are doing, the easier it is for them in the long run. Your sandwich looks hearty and scrumptious (I’ve been on a mozzarella kick lately myself) – I find pesto adds wonderfully to the moistness/deliciousness of sandwiches – great tip with the extra weight on the sandwiches; must try that. Have a great day Charles and a wonderful upcoming trip to England! (will check out your video later today with my boys – they enjoy them :)).

    • says

      Hi Kelly, what a treat to see you here so early! He’s certainly a big guy now. It’s weird – you don’t think of him as growing because it happens in front of your eyes, but when I glance over at the photo from when he was just a little new-born the difference is remarkable!

      I’m hoping to do some cooking from England, and I’m going to try and make a video there too, which should be fun! Hope you enjoy the video here, and have a wonderful day too :)

  3. says

    Whoa! William is so big now and he’s sitting up in a high chair! Hope his teething has been okay. I remember my kids were fussy time to time due to teething! Delicious sandwich, Charles! I recently saw a similar sandwich for the first time and I was amazed how we can stuff the ingredients and then cut! Love the layers and so pretty!

    • says

      Hi Nami, the bottom teeth coming through weren’t too big of a problem in general, although he seems to be having some problems with his top tooth (teeth?). Seems to be causing the little guy quite some discomfort :(

  4. says

    Oh gosh your baby looks so cute… watch out they grow up very fast, so enjoy every minute with them… I cannot believe that my oldest is 10 already :(. Back to your recipe it loos so yummy, I think peeling the aubergine will make it even better. I’ll sure try this . Thanks for sharing

    • says

      Thank you Amira! I was watching an old video of mine and he seemed so tiny in that video… I can’t believe he got so big already! :)

      As for the sandwich – I must say I disagree. I love aubergine skin… it gives an extra flavour and texture and I think if the aubergines were peeled then it would just be a layer of mush. I’d recommend trying it with the skin first!

        • says

          Hi Amira, sorry for my late reply. You know, I think maybe we are using different varieties of aubergine. The type I use isn’t bitter at all… at least not in my opinion. I really enjoy the skin a lot and I think aubergines would be a lot less exciting if they had no skin!

  5. says

    Great sandwich! Makes me want to go on a picnic – can’t be too long, Spring is in the air! Also, love the new look site. It looks great, really quite funky and fresh. Well done you x

    • says

      Hi Anneli – spring is definitely in the air now, right?! After a sudden crazy cold-snap last week or the week before… I forget… we’ve been blessed with a few fairly clement days and today is beautiful weather!

    • says

      Hi A_ – you should try this nevertheless though I think. The flavours are spot on in my opinion and while the steak version is nice this is definitely my favourite of all sandwiches now (not just the Shooter’s variety).

      • says

        I’m willing but no tomatoes as I don’t like them and I’ve never tasted eggplants so I’d have to find inspiring substitutes.

        William really DOES look like he’s growing like a weed especially with all the great home made and nutritious food you’re giving him. Two teeth … I remember all the drooling from my nephew as the teeth came in. :)

  6. says

    William is adorable and sounds like he may be a gourmet! Love, love this sandwich, and it gives me an idea for a gathering we’re having this weekend, thanks! Can’t wait to try it. Have safe travels and a lovely time in England.

    • says

      Thank you Betsy – I hope he enjoys food as much as I do. I know kids can be quite finicky… not liking certain vegetables or fruits, but I think it’s down to how they’re prepared ultimately!

      Hope you get a chance to try the sandwich :)

  7. says

    Oh Charles, you’ve made me hungry! This is exactly the sort of sandwich I love! And when your darling boy gets a few more teeth, I’m sure he will as well. Can’t wait to see your posts from your parents’ kitchen.

    • says

      Thank you Jean :). Maybe one day William will be out-stripping me in the kitchen. Who knows, perhaps he’ll develop his own signature shooter’s sandwich variety 😀

  8. says

    Okay, so did I pop in on the right day or what! First of all, would you look at William?! He is so handsome Charles and I can’t believe he is sitting up and eating solids already! Where has the time gone? I love that he is enjoying so many foods and such a variety. He’ll be cooking with you in no time. And as for the food…I remember the Shooter Sandwich well. I printed that one out and have wanted to make it for some time. Now I have another version to try and I have a feeling this one will be the winner for me. I think I’m going to put it on next week’s menu. I haven’t had eggplant in a while and now you’ve got me craving it. I hope you have a wonderful time in England. Enjoy every minute! I’ll be looking forward to seeing the pics and seeing what you whip up in your mom and dad’s kitchen. Perhaps we’ll have to revisit our English cooking adventures post-break (which I’ve been enjoying immensely – thank you for the idea). Looking forward to more! Have a great time Charles – your first “family vacation!”

    • says

      Hi Kristy, it’s crazy isn’t it? I can’t believe he got so big already. When I’m back from England I think I’m going to make a video and feature the little guy in the beginning. Compared to an earlier video I made with him in it he’s so much more active now. Looking around and smiling all the time – I don’t think I ever saw a baby smile so much as he does :)

      I really hope you get a chance to try this sandwich – it’s absolutely my favourite type of sandwich now… I’d take this over any other type, any day! :)

      Hope you’re all well!

  9. says

    I love this post Charles! I was smiling the whole time I was reading about how you are feeding you little cutie! Very smart of you! This sandwich looks AWESOME! I love everything about it – the bread, the ingredients, the process – just amazing! I hope you are having fun with the folks and am looking forward to seeing some pictures!

    • says

      Hi MJ – glad I could brighten your day a little :) William certainly does a great job at that for me every time I see his little face.

      Hope you’re well, and that you have a chance to try this sandwich some time – it’s really yummy :)

    • says

      Thanks Karen – it certainly won’t be long before he’s chomping down on this sandwich… he’s got three teeth poking through now 😀

    • says

      Thanks Marianna – I hope you give it a try… I like this one way more than the steak version… it’s so nommy… can’t stop eating it once I make it!

  10. says

    Charles, I dont know where to begin as I just adored this post. First your young little man is quite a handsome little chap, just like daddy. I love this little rubber band wrists oh how I miss this stage. Now this sandwich recipe is booked marked and saved as this is some awesome picnic food. Have a splendid time on your travels. Take care, BAM

    • says

      Thank you so much Bam – it’s crazy, he’s starting to move around like crazy, and he’s grabbing everything in sight. You look away for a second and he’s wriggled off somewhere and pulling all the magazines off the table!

  11. says

    Oh, yes I remember your shooter’s sandwich so well! This one looks at least as marvellous as the previous sandwich and both would make a sensational appearance at picnics, I bet.
    It seems that your son might be my soul mate 😉 When I was a child I loooved garlic and strong flavours and spices. One of my favourite snacks when I was maybe 5 years old was… buttered bread with raw slices of garlic, slightly salted and I have always loved chili. Even as a 7 or 8 years’ old, I used to add chili powder into my favourite soup: Polish tripe soup!!! (Haha, I wish I could see your face now!). Anyway, I’m sure your son will be a big, open-minded gourmet.

    • says

      Hi Sissi, buttered bread with raw slices of garlic? Gosh, I think I would probably enjoy that now, at 30… I’m not sure about back then though when I was ~7. It’s funny how tastes change… I remember when I was visiting my sister in China when I was 18. Even at this age my tastes were not that broad and the diet “forced” upon me by my vacation was a culture shock. I just wanted toast and cereal for breakfast, but every day it was some sort of noodle soup, shredded pork, leafy greens… these days it would be no problem for me but then it was SO hard!

  12. says

    First time I see this type of sandwich, and I’m very intrigued. Looks like something I’d really love to make one weekend :)

    Your boy is so gorgeous and has grown up so fast :) Wishing him many happy days ahead!

  13. Jenny says

    I found you on ifoodtv and tried this sandwich today and my 15 year old son loved it. I liked the crunchiness of bacon and it was sooooou delicious and easy to make. I will surly make it again. Thank you for posting this delicious sandwich and will try others on your site!!


  14. says

    Hi! I’m ging to try this recipe tomorrow… Looks amazing!
    Just a question: are the 24h rest really necessary or would 12h be enough? Like doing it in the morning to eat for dinner… So I can keep it longer as we are only 2 at home…
    Thanks, I’m going to continue my visit on your fantastic blog!

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