Sunday, August 19, 2012

Nuteena sandwich.

The impossible-salad sandwich. © Ryan Schierling
This is a sandwich you have never heard of. Chances are, it is a sandwich you will never make.

Not because you don't want to, but because the main ingredient was discontinued in 2005. Nuteena was the only non-meat analog product in the Worthington / Loma Linda line, which included alternatives to pork, beef, chicken and – strangely enough – scallops.

Unknown to us at the time, Julie and I quite possibly used the last can of Nuteena in existence back in 2008. 

We were in Hawaii, house-sitting and hungry after a morning of snorkeling. Perusing the cupboards, she found a single, solitary can of Nuteena, which instantly took her back more than 20 years. 

Julie, raised vegetarian, had eaten Nuteena sandwiches since she was a kid. It was part of her history and she'd all but forgotten about it. As a consummate carnivore, I had no idea what to make of the pale brown, faintly nutty loaf, and I wouldn't have had the faintest what to do with it. But, I consider myself a fairly adventurous eater and was intrigued by such a strange product. What "salad" sandwich was Nuteena supposed to be replacing for vegetarians? Tuna salad? Chicken salad? I've heard of peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, but this was just bizarre. Mixing the stuff with mayo and onion and dill pickle, it looked like a simple tuna or chicken salad, but it certainly didn't taste like anything I'd ever eaten before.

I loved it.

It was creamy, savory, had a nice bite from the onion, and – unlike every other meat analog – I liked that it wasn't trying to be something else. It was just… Nuteena. And it has become a part of our history. 

So, historically speaking, what exactly was Nuteena? If you look at it by the ingredients – water, peanut butter (peanuts), soy flour, yellow corn flour and rice flour, yeast extract, salt, onion powder, celery extract and miscellaneous vitamins – it was… gross. Nuteena was not something you'd ever imagine used as a sandwich spread, and yet, that's where it shined.

While Nuteena is no longer available, Cedar Lake makes a product called NuteeSupreme that is similar and available if you know where to look. While we still call them "Nuteena" sandwiches, they are now made with the Cedar Lake proxy. If you can get your hands on some NuteeSupreme, and you're feeling adventurous, give them a try. Go on. I dare you. 

Nuteena* sandwiches

1 19-ounce can Cedar Lake NuteeSupreme
1 cup finely chopped white onion
1 1/2 whole kosher dill pickles, chopped 
1/2 cup Best Foods or Hellman's mayonnaise
1 tablespoon pickle juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
a few grinds of black pepper
sandwich bread

Open both ends of the NuteeSupreme can and use one lid to push it out of the can. Cut the NuteeSupreme into 1-inch cubes and place in a food processor. Pulse a few times, until the NuteeSupreme is loose and chunky. Put into a large mixing bowl. Add chopped onion, pickles, mayonnaise, pickle juice, salt and pepper. Mix well and refrigerate.

Put a little additional mayonnaise on the bread, then top with Nuteena spread and leaf lettuce. Serves eight. 

Don't think about it too much. © Ryan Schierling


  1. mollyjade - You would be right! Similar. There are a variety of products in the same family of nut-based vege-products. I believe that protose may have been one of the originals from Kellogg in the early 1900s - an interesting time in Battle Creek, Michigan, to be sure.

  2. Thank you for giving the last can of Nuteena the homage it rightly deserves. As previously noted, you have been forgiven, but the last can shall never be forgotten.

  3. We have a peanut allergy in the house. I use Sunbutter for stuff and it is a much cleaner flavor than most peanut butters. I wonder if the special handling vs. handling made the Nuteena and this product different.

  4. @ Anonymous (aka Karla), it was my first, and only Nuteena experience. I was such a young man, innocent in the ways of vegefood.

  5. @ Chef Dad, Nuteena is/was a peanut product. Cedar Lakes NuteeSupreme is a peanut product. They're certainly more of a hard loaf than a spread. We've seen recipes online for sunflower-seed-based nut loaf similar to the peanut loaf counterparts, but haven't braved those waters. I imagine they would work well for a sandwich spread, though.

  6. Hallelujah! FINALLY a vegan recipe on your blog I can try :-)! Yesssss!!!!!

    1. Oh, yay!!! Somehow eggs and dairy have a way of sneaking into most of our dishes, huh? With this one you'd just have to substitute a vegan mayonnaise.

      I know we have more recipes that are either vegan - - or could easily be adapted. Some are not even labeled as "vegetarian" simply because we included a poultry broth or butter in the recipe - both super easy to substitute out. A good example is this stuffing recipe -

      Sounds like we'll have to do a review of past posts and start a label for "vegan friendly." :D


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