For Chatelaine‘s new video series, Vegan It! with Lauren Toyota, the former MuchMusic VJ and current YouTube star demonstrates how to create vegan versions of everyone’s favourite comfort classics — like BLTs and milkshakes — without elaborate recipes or compromising on taste. Find more of Lauren’s awesome recipes on her blog, her YouTube channel and her upcoming cookbook, Vegan Comfort Classics.
In this episode: Lauren takes on the challenge of making a gooey, crunchy and buttery grilled cheese sandwich — without any dairy.
Making it gooey: Lauren’s secret to recreating a real-cheese melt is knowing the right vegan cheese substitute to use.
For her recipe, she uses a vegan cheese brand called Earth Island. These products are made up of coconut oil, starch, natural flavouring and sometimes, beta carotene (for colour) — it’s the same pigment that make carrots orange. Vegan cheeses are available in a range of flavours that replicate the salty, tanginess of regular cheese, including cheddar, provolone, gouda and pepper jack. “They taste magically like what I remember real cheese tasting like,” she says. In grocery stores, look for vegan cheese products with the tofu and other refrigerated vegetarian sources of protein.
Vegan cheese does melt, however, it just takes a little longer. The key to this sandwich is using low heat to melt your cheese and avoid burning your bread.
Making it crispy: Like margarine, vegan butter is oil-based, so it helps the bread toast in the pan. Grilled cheese sandwiches demand a crunchy exterior to contrast to the melty, cheesy interior.
Extras: As with any grilled cheese sandwich, this recipe is a great base for mixing and matching flavours to change up your classic go-to and add a little sophistication — Lauren recommends adding basil and avocado into the mix or making it smoky and spicy with smoked gouda, pepper jack and pickled jalapenos.
Classic Vegan Grilled Cheese
Makes: 2 sandwiches
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 17 to 20 minutes
- 4 slices of sourdough or multigrain bread (or bread of your choice)
- 4 tbsp vegan butter, like Earth Balance
- 6 cheddar-style cheese slices, like Earth Island or Follow Your Heart
- Heat a non-stick pan over low heat.
- Butter 2 slices of bread and place the buttered side down in the pan.
- Top with 3 slices of cheddar per sandwich. Place the other slices of bread on top and butter the top side.
- Cover the pan with a lid and heat for about 5 to 6 minutes or until an even golden brown is achieved on the bottom of the sandwich. Then carefully flip the sandwiches and leave covered for about another 5 to 6 minutes until crispy and golden brown on the other side. Turn off heat and leave the lid on for about 5 more minutes to get the cheese really melted. The key to melty cheese slices is to heat the sandwiches over low heat for a longer amount of time and trap the heat in the pan with the lid.
Maple Mustard Dip (makes 1/3 cup)
- 1⁄4 cup Dijon mustard or grainy mustard
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard
- 1 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
Mix together in a bowl or jar while the grilled cheese is cooking. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 1 week.