Jun 07, 2023
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Sabich is a traditional Israeli sandwich filled with a variety of fresh and flavorful ingredients. In this vegan version, the sandwich features crispy fried eggplant, creamy hummus, salty fried mushrooms, tahini and amba sauce, Israeli salad, and a medley of herbs and spices, all nestled inside a warm pita bread.
Whether enjoyed for breakfast as a healthy hangover cure, lunch, dinner, or even a boozy late night snack, this vegan sabich is a delightful and satisfying option for anyone looking for a hearty, healthy meal!
This vegan sabich – with fried eggplants and mushrooms – is a family-friendly sandwich that is great any time of day, based off my favorite sandwich from travels to Israel. I visited Israel as a guest of Vibe Israel as well as Visit Israel, to learn more about the country, Israeli food and wine, and taste Israeli cuisine firsthand. All opinions are my own. For more about my first trip to Israel, visit here.
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Table of contents
Vegan Israeli Eggplant Pitas
Sabich is a popular Israeli street food sandwich with fried eggplants, hummus, Israeli salad, tahini sauce, amba sauce, and sometimes other vegetables, potatoes, and topped with hardboiled eggs (or often mushrooms, if you don’t love hard boiled eggs or are sticking to a vegan diet.) I first had sabich when visiting Jerusalem in 2022, and again in Tel Aviv in 2023 – and have been making it at home a few times a month ever since. My whole family LOVES sabich night – its one of our favorite easy healthy meals – especially during fasting times when we aren’t eating meat or dairy (we’re Greek Orthodox, there are a few times a year we eat vegan.)
The heart of a traditional sabich sandwich is the filling, which typically consists of a variety of fresh and healthy ingredients – though the sandwich is incredibly filling and rich for being healthy. One of the key components is fried eggplant slices, which add a crispy texture and a rich, smoky flavor. These luscious eggplant slices are complemented by creamy hummus, providing a smooth and velvety base for the other ingredients. Fresh Israeli salad, made with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley, adds a refreshing crunch and vibrant colors to the sandwich.
To enhance the flavors further, sabich is often topped with hard-boiled eggs (which we’re skipping for this recipe and adding mushrooms instead), tahini sauce, and amba, a tangy and spicy pickled mango sauce.
Since I’m not a huge hard boiled egg fan, I first tried the mushroom version at Aricha Sabich in Jerusalem, just across from the bustling indoor market stalls of the Mahane Yehuda market on a tour with Visit Israel.
Hot tip: if you’re visiting Jerusalem for the first time, book a tour of the Mahane Yehuda Market or a Full Day Jerusalem tour with Tourist Israel! They offer incredibly affordable small group tours of the market that include so many tastings (you cannot leave hungry, I was regretting my non-stretchy pant clothing by the end of the day) or private group tours that will leave your stomachs AND hearts full as you check out the market and Jerusalem’s old city, including the Holy Sepulchre.
Sabich has gained popularity around the world for its deliciousness and its versatility. It can be enjoyed as a hearty breakfast, a satisfying lunch, or a filling dinner option. Its vegetarian and vegan-friendly nature has made it even more appealing to a wide range of people, allowing them to experience the vibrant flavors of Israeli street food.
Whether you enjoy sabich from a street food vendor in Israel or make it at home, it is a truly delightful dish that showcases the vibrant and diverse culinary heritage of the Middle East!
How to Make Sabich
To make this recipe, you will need:
- Pitas: These are the base of your sandwich. They are fluffy, slightly chewy bread that holds all the ingredients together. Their neutral taste allows the flavors of the filling to shine. Homemade pita, or fresh-baked pita from a bakery (which is puffier, and not as dry) is FAR better for this recipe. However, if you’re pressed for time like I always am, store-bought pitas (as pictured) can be used.
- Eggplant: This is the heart of the sabich sandwich. When roasted, the eggplant becomes tender and develops a rich, smoky flavor. It’s a great source of fiber and brings a meaty texture that makes the sandwich satisfying and filling. I often use Chinese eggplant, as I find many American eggplants to be too large, water-filled, and often flavorless. The smaller, longer Chinese eggplants often can have an earthier flavor, so I opt for them when I can’t get eggplant I love.
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms are often used in vegan cooking as a substitute for meat due to their umami flavor and hearty texture. They can provide a substitute for the boiled eggs traditionally included in sabich. You can use any kind of mushroom, but oyster or portobello mushrooms could work particularly well.
- Olive Oil: Used for roasting the eggplant and mushrooms, olive oil adds richness and ensures the vegetables don’t dry out. It enhances their flavor and contributes healthy monounsaturated fats.
- Hummus: This creamy chickpea spread adds a tangy, savory note to the sandwich. It also brings protein, fiber, and healthy fats to the table, making the sabich even more nutritious.
- Tahini Sauce: Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. When mixed with water, lemon juice, and some spices, it turns into a flavorful sauce that adds a nutty, creamy element to the sandwich. It pairs especially well with the eggplant and mushrooms.
- Amba Sauce: This tangy, slightly spicy pickled mango sauce brings an exciting contrast to the other ingredients. Its unique flavor profile, combining sweetness, tartness, and heat, gives the sabich an extra layer of complexity.
- Israeli Salad: Usually made from chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and parsley, dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. This salad adds a refreshing, crunchy element to the sandwich. The acidity of the lemon juice in the salad helps balance the richness of the other ingredients.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following method:
- Prep. If making Israeli salad, tahini sauce, and hummus fresh, make ahead of time.
- Warm pita. If using pre-made pita from a store, place in a lightly damp kitchen towel and place on a baking sheet in the oven and set the temperature to 250 degrees to lightly warm and soften the pita.
- Fry eggplant and mushrooms. In a large pan, add olive oil and fry eggplants, salting well to encourage eggplants to give off excess water. Once eggplants have started to brown, add mushrooms and continue to fry until caramelized and crispy on both sides. Remove eggplant and mushrooms and place on a paper towel to drip off any excess oil.
- Assemble sandwiches. Remove pita from oven and cut in half. Open pita and slather hummus on the insides of pita. Fill pita with Israeli salad, fried mushroom and eggplant, optional Crispy Roasted Potatoes, and top with lots of tahini sauce and amba sauce.
Tips and Tricks for Perfect Vegan Sabich
Frying the Eggplant: Slice your eggplant and sprinkle with salt, letting it sit for a while (around 15-20 minutes) to draw out some of the moisture and bitterness. Rinse off the salt and pat dry before roasting. When you fry it, ensure it’s cooked until tender and a bit charred for extra flavor.
Marinating the Mushrooms: You’re using mushrooms to replace the traditional eggs in sabich, so adding extra flavor can be a game-changer. Consider marinating the mushrooms in some soy sauce, garlic, and other seasonings before roasting or sautéing them.
Fresh Hummus and Tahini: If you can, make your hummus and tahini sauce fresh. The flavor is typically better than store-bought versions and you can adjust the seasoning to your liking. Remember, the key to a creamy hummus is to peel the chickpeas before blending.
Making Amba Sauce: If you have the time, try making your own amba sauce. It’s a fermented mango condiment, but you can make a quicker version by blending ripe mango with vinegar, turmeric, and a bit of chili.
Israeli Salad: Make sure to finely chop your vegetables for the Israeli salad to ensure they can be easily tucked into the pita. Dress the salad right before assembling the sandwiches so the vegetables stay crisp.
Pita Bread: If you can, warm your pita bread before assembling your sabich. This makes the bread more pliable and helps the flavors meld together.
Layering: When assembling your sabich, consider layering the ingredients in a way that ensures you get a bit of everything in each bite. You can start with a layer of hummus, then add your eggplant and mushrooms, drizzle over your tahini and amba sauce, and top with the Israeli salad.
Sabich is a traditional Israeli sandwich. The original version is made with pita bread stuffed with fried eggplant, hard-boiled eggs, Israeli salad, hummus, tahini sauce, and amba sauce. A vegan version replaces the eggs with a plant-based alternative like roasted or marinated mushrooms.
Israeli salad is a simple, fresh salad made from diced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and parsley, typically dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. It’s a common component of many Middle Eastern dishes.
Sabich has a unique blend of flavors and textures. It’s both creamy and crunchy, with the smokiness of the roasted eggplant, the earthiness of the mushrooms, the tanginess of the hummus and amba sauce, and the freshness of the Israeli salad. The overall taste is savory, with a slight sweetness and spice from the amba sauce.
Yes, sabich can be quite healthy, especially in the vegan version. It contains a good balance of vegetables (eggplant, mushrooms, and salad), plant protein (from the hummus), and healthy fats (from the tahini and olive oil). Like with any dish, moderation is key.
Absolutely. You can fry the eggplant and mushrooms, prepare the hummus and tahini sauce, and even chop the salad ingredients in advance. Just keep everything refrigerated, and assemble in pitas when you’re ready to eat. You can heat up eggplant and mushrooms by quickly pan frying, or eat them cold – whatever you prefer!
Yes, sabich is versatile and can be customized to your liking. You could add other roasted or fresh vegetables, switch out the mushrooms for tofu or tempeh, or add different sauces or pickles.
Amba sauce is a tangy, slightly spicy sauce made from fermented mangoes. If you can’t find it, you could use a different kind of pickled mango sauce, or even a mix of mango chutney and hot sauce. For a different flavor profile, you could also use a different tangy, spicy sauce like Sriracha.
Because this sabich is vegan, and uses ingredients that can be purchased kosher, this recipe can be made fully kosher. Please buy kosher ingredients and prepare them according to Kosher specifications.
I am not Jewish, and cannot advise on keeping a kosher diet – but do know this is a meal that can easily work in a kosher home.
What to Serve With Sabich
Pickles: Pickled cucumbers or other pickled vegetables can add a refreshing, tangy crunch that contrasts well with the richness of the sabich.
Falafel: These deep-fried chickpea balls can add extra protein to your meal. They can be served on the side with some extra tahini sauce for dipping.
Couscous or quinoa salad: A light salad made with couscous or quinoa, mixed with fresh herbs and vegetables, could complement the sabich well.
Tabbouleh: This fresh, herbaceous salad made with bulgur, parsley, tomatoes, and lemon juice can provide a refreshing contrast.
Baba ganoush: This smoky eggplant dip would double down on the eggplant flavor in the sabich.
Stuffed grape leaves (Dolmas): These can provide a tangy contrast to the richness of the sabich.
For more recipes to serve with sabich, check out some of our favorites below:
Vegan Sabich Recipe
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- 4 large pitas (use 8 pitas if small)
- 1 large Eggplant
- 200g (about 7oz) of Mushrooms (oyster or portobello work well)
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 cup of Hummus
- 1/2 cup of Tahini Sauce
- 1/2 cup of Amba Sauce
- 2 cups of Israeli Salad (made from diced cucumber, tomatoes, onions, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil)
- If making Israeli salad, tahini sauce, and hummus fresh, assemble before frying eggplant.
- If using pre-made pita from a store, place in a lightly damp kitchen towel and place on a baking sheet in the oven and set the temperature to 250 degrees to lightly warm and soften the pita.
- In a large pan, add olive oil and fry eggplants, salting well to encourage eggplants to give off excess water. Once eggplants have started to brown, add mushrooms and continue to fry until caramelized and crispy on both sides.
- Remove eggplant and mushrooms and place on a paper towel to drip off any excess oil.
- Remove pita from oven and cut in half. If using small pitas, only cut off top 1/4 of pita so you can fill from the top.
- Open pita and slather hummus on the insides of pita.
- Fill pita with Israeli salad, fried mushroom and eggplant, optional Crispy Roasted Potatoes, and top with lots of tahini sauce and amba sauce. Alternate as you fill pita so you get a bite of each flavor in each bite!
- Serve and enjoy!
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Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 304Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 0mgSodium 523mgCarbohydrates 35gFiber 6gSugar 6gProtein 9g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.