Create an incredible vegan Po Boy sandwich with a few simple ingredients. Crispy creole cauliflower, vegetable toppings, and vegan creole mayo are nestled inside the crunchy toasted french bread. Bite. Enjoy. Repeat!
Recently, on my blog feed, someone requested a Po Boy sandwich veganized. So, after some experimentation, I decided to transform cauliflower into vegan mock shrimp. Although I've made Vegan Crab Cakes from tofu, I chose cauliflower as my inspiration to make it crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. I love cooking with cauliflower, so why not make a Louisiana creole cauliflower to replace the shrimp?
A traditional Po Boy sandwich, although simple in execution, requires very few ingredients. The combination of the few ingredients, however, tastes incredible. As with many of my sandwiches, I removed the excess bread from the center of the french loaf for an extra-crunchy exterior. This reduces the number of carbs in a sandwich but provides more room for the goodies inside.
What is a Po Boy Sandwich?
A po'boy (also PO-boy, PO boy, or poor boy) is a traditional sandwich from Louisiana. It almost always consists of meat, usually roast beef or fried seafood, often shrimp, crawfish, fish, oysters, or crab, served on New Orleans French bread.
My vegan Po boy sandwich is packed with cauliflower and other whole-food ingredients and baked rather than fried. And my version also contains a secret vegan creole cashew mayo that brings it all together.
During the Street Car Driver's Strike of 1929, the Martin brothers invented the PO-boy sandwich, feeding hungry strikers. These hearty, large sandwiches provided the men with a satisfying meal.
Then, when strikers approached to buy the sandwiches, they yelled out, "here comes another poor boy." As a result, this famous sandwich developed into a New Orleans tradition!
I believe that cauliflower makes the perfect mock cauliflower shrimp. First, cauliflower absorbs flavors and textures. For that reason, baking or air-frying cauliflower with oil-free breading creates the perfect faux shrimp.
- Cauliflower florets: Cauliflower is a great meat replacement because it is like a sponge. It absorbs flavors and seasonings well.
- Oat milk(Bowl #1): I prefer oat milk because it's so creamy, but any plant milk will work.
- Garbanzo flour (Bowl #2): Also called chickpea flour, this gluten-free flour is thin and delicate. Although this is my favorite flour to use for this recipe, any flour works well.
- Bread crumbs (Bowl #3): I make my own bread crumbs using Dave's Bread. Toast it and crumble it in a food processor, or use store-bought bread crumbs.
- Nutritional yeast: Nutritional yeast, also called "nooch," is a popular food product often used in vegan cooking.
- Creole seasoning: I like Old Bay Creole Seasoning, but any creole seasoning works well. Please remember, when using any spicy seasoning, you can add in small amounts to reach your individual preference.
These three separate dipping bowls distinguish between crunchy cauliflower and soggy cauliflower.
How to Bread and Cook the Cauliflower
After removing the core from the cauliflower, cut it into bite-sized florets.
Then, it's all about dredging; dip a cauliflower floret into the plant milk, then the flour, back in the plant milk, and finish in the bread crumb mixture. Once dipped, spread the cauliflower on a single layer on a prepared baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes
- Or air-fry in a single layer and bathes at 370 degrees for 15 minutes.
Once the cauliflower is baked, prepare the other sandwich ingredients.
Other Sandwich Ingredients
- French bread: New Orleans-style French bread is the opposite. It has very little or no fat or sugar and no preservatives.
- Dill Pickle Sandwich Slices (called sandwich stackers): These thin pickle strips are already cut in a jar. But you can always slice whole pickles as well.
- White onion: These onions have a sharper and pungent flavor than yellow onions. They also tend to be more tender and have thinner, papery skin.
- Tomato: I used fresh tomatoes from my garden, which I adore. If buying tomatoes in the store, choose large, organic tomatoes for the best flavor.
- Romaine Lettuce: I love Romaine lettuce on sandwiches because of the crunch and freshness.
- Although I prefer French bread for a traditional take on this vegan sandwich, any hard-crusted bread works.
- Sweet pickles offer a different flavor profile than dill pickles.
- Choose a premade vegan creole mayo instead of making your own.
- Cajun seasoning is similar in flavor and ingredients, but it is a little hotter in terms of spice. So again, use sparingly if you're sensitive to spice.
- Tofu is also an excellent substitute for cauliflower.
Vegan Creole Sauce Ingredients
First, begin with vegan cashew mayo, add a few more ingredients, and achieve an incredible sandwich spread!
- Vegan Cashew Mayo: I make my own mayo from cashews. The recipe, however, includes substitutions below.
- Dijon Mustard: I love the tanginess of dijon mustard, especially when paired with creole seasoning.
- Creole Seasoning: I prefer Old Bay Seasoning. Creole seasoning is a combination of paprika, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, basil, thyme, black pepper, white pepper, and cayenne pepper.
Vegan Creole Sauce Ingredient Substitutions
- Instead of making cashew mayo, choose a store-bought vegan mayo. Or, substitute the cashews in the recipe for sunflower seeds. Another option is to use silken tofu or white beans instead of cashews for a nut-free, seed-free option.
- Stone ground mustard is often used instead of dijon mustard in recipes.
- Any brand of creole seasoning works in this recipe. Or make your own creole blend using 5 tablespoons of paprika, 3 tablespoons of salt, 2 tablespoons of onion powder, 2 tablespoons of garlic powder, 2 tablespoons of dried oregano, 2 tablespoons of dried basil, 1 tablespoon of dried thyme, 1 tablespoon of black pepper, 1 tablespoon of white pepper, 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Store in a jar for up to 6 months. For those who want a low sodium option, reduce the salt by ½.
How to Assemble the Sandwich
Begin by cutting the french bread lengthwise. Next, pull some other bread from the interior of the French Bread. But be careful not to break through the crust. Then, broil on low in the oven for 5 minutes, carefully watching to avoid burning.
- Spread of thin layer of creole mayo on both sides of the french bread
- Add a generous portion of cauliflower to the bottom of the french bread
- Add lettuce, three slices of tomatoes, onion slivers, and two stackable sandwich pickles on the other side of the bread.
- If you dare, add a little more vegan creole mayo.
- Fold and cut in half or pieces using a long loaf of French bread instead of individual loaves.
- Now, take a bite and try not to say, "WOW!"
Unlike the chewy Italian loaf that most subs serve, the Po' Boy is served on a French baguette with a thin, crisp crust and a soft, light interior.
Piled with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mock cauliflower shrimp, vegan Po-Boys are stuffed and slathered with vegan creole mayonnaise and served between two long pieces of French bread.
The Cajun seasoning blend will be a perfect substitute for Creole seasoning if you find yourself in a bind. Another option is to use the component ingredients - paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, dried oregano, basil, and thyme.
- Often, people ask where to find vegan or oil-free bread. Most bread is vegan; however, not all bread is oil-free. But what most people don't know is the bakery section at the regular grocery store carries a ton of oil-free bread options. Skip the bread aisle, where the processed bread is located. If you read the labels, most fresh-baked bread only contains flour, yeast, and water.
- I always remove the excess bread from the center of each side of the french bread to make a crevice or hole to pile the ingredients. This reduces the amount of bread you are eating too!
- Use the extra bread removed from the center of the french bread for bread crumbs or to dip into soup recipes.
So, the next time you're craving a Po Boy, try a vegan Po Boy Sandwich!
Try these Vegan Sandwich Recipes
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Po Boy Sandwich
Cauliflower Creole Shrimp
- 1 head cauliflower core removed and cut into florets
- 2 cups unsweetened unflavored plant milk I used Oat Milk
- 2 cups chickpea flour or any flour of choice
- 1 Tablespoon creole seasoning I used Old Bay Seasoning
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- ¾ cup bread crumbs homemade or store-bought
- 1 loaf french bread or 4 small loaves (Ciabatta loaves work as well) or bread of choice
- 2 tomatoes sliced think
- 1 white onion
- 4 large Romaine leaves
- 8 sandwich dill pickle slices
Vegan Creole Mayo
- ½ cup cashew mayo recipe
- 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons creole seasoning I used Old Bay Seasoning
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce of choice optional
Preparing the Cauliflower and Dredging Bowls
- Remove the core and the outer leaves from the head of the cauliflower.
- Cut the cauliflower into florets by placing the core side up and cutting naturally to separate the florets from the whole cauliflower.
- Place the florets in a colander and rinse thoroughly with water.
- Dry the cauliflower with a towel or paper towel.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
- Prepare three separate bowls: One with the oat milk (or any plant-based unsweetened, unflavored milk), another with the flour, and the final bowl with the bread crumb, creole seasoning, and nutritional yeast mixture.
- Stir the bowl with the bread crumbs, Creole seasoning, and nutritional yeast.
- Dip each floret in the plant milk, then flour, back into the plant milk, and finish with the bread crumbs in the bowl.
- Place each coated cauliflower floret on the baking sheet until all the cauliflower is coated.
- Bake for 35 minutes, uncovered in the 400-degree oven.
- If air-frying, do so in single-layer batches at 370 degrees for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, make the vegan creole mayo.
Vegan Creole May
- Prepare the cashew mayo recipe or use tofu mayo or vegan mayo of choice.
- Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
- Taste BEFORE adding the optional hot sauce. Only add if you like it spicier.
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
Assembling the Po Boy Sandwich
- Cut the french bread lengthwise, and carefully remove any excess bread (this step is optional but recommended if you like it crunchy)
- Be careful not to break through the crust on either side.
- Place the cut bread open on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and broil for 5 minutes on low until the bread is well toasted.
- Watch the bread, as many broilers differ, and you don't want the bread to burn.
- Smear vegan creole mayo on both of the bread.
- Add the crispy cauliflower to the base of one side of the bread.
- Add lettuce, tomato slices, onion, and pickle slices on the other side of the bread.
- Add extra sauce if you dare.
- Slice the large loaf into servings, or serve individual small loaves.
- Look for fresh bread in the bakery section of the grocery store. French bread is my preferred choice, but any hard roll works well.
- Make the Creole mayo and refrigerate it to chill while preparing the sandwich ingredients.
- I prefer fine, gluten-free flour for this recipe, but any flour works well.
- I also like oat milk because of its creamy texture, but any plant milk will work. Make sure, however, that you choose unsweetened, unflavored plant milk.
- The cauliflower can also be air-fried at the same temperature for half the time.
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂