If you think that the French word “croque” refers to an ugly plastic shoe, you are wrong. We are in fact talking about a series of toasted sandwiches that are popular in Belgium (and some of them also in France and the Netherlands). Unfortunately, not all of them are suitable for vegans or vegetarians. Let us talk first about the ones to avoid:
- Croque monsieur: toasted sandwich with ham and cheese (usually Gouda);
- Croque madame: same as croque monsieur, but with a poached or lightly fried egg on top;
- Croque hawai: same as a croque monsieur, but with a slice of canned pineapple on top;
- Croque bolognese: same as a croque monsieur, but served with a Bolognese sauce.
- Croque saumon: also often sold as a “toast saumon”. This is a toasted sandwich with cream cheese, smoked salmon and red onion.
The croque monsieur is the most popular variety: you can find it in most cafés, bistros and some restaurants, where it is usually considered to be a snack or lunch. It is in general served with a mixed salad and mayonnaise and/or ketchup. The word “croque” by the way comes from the French verb “croquer”, which means to bite.
Now let us talk about the variations that are suitable for vegetarians and / or vegans:
- Croque nutella: not a usual variant. This is with sliced banana and, you guessed it, Nutella.
Now, there are cafés that come up with their own vegetarian options. Le chat touille, the cat café that I visited about a week ago, had toasted sandwiches with goat’s cheese and apple and with avocado.
Let us start with the choice of bread. We avoid dark bread; you can use for example toast or butter bread. Some cafés cut off the crust, others don’t.
If you`re a pescatarian for example. the other ingredients to go for are: smoked salmon, Maredsous (cheese spread version) and capers instead of red onion. And a little bit of dill to finish the dish.
To toast the sandwich, you can use a special bread toaster, a grill or even a pan.
Le chat touille went for a slightly different salad; instead of fresh tomatoes, they used the sundried version.
There must be a perfect balance between the sweetness of the salmon and the cheese… and the saltiness of the capers.