Sunday, February 28, 2016

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese & A Giveaway!

If you know anything about me, you know I love me some Follow Your Heart. From Vegenaise to Creamy Garlic Dressing, to Vegan Scrambled Eggs, to Provolone Slices...I love it all. So, I was super excited to get a sample of the new Smoked Gouda Slices and the Parmesan Shreds to play around with in the kitchen.

Parmesan is a funny cheese. The dairy version smells like a cross between stinky feet and a musty basement, so I wasn't real sure how the vegan version would turn out.  And since I have been pretty happy with nooch as a parm sub, when I run out of Kelly's Croutons Cheezy Parm, I wanted to do something with it beyond sprinkling it on a salad or pasta.

In my pregan days I used to love going to Rock Bottom Brewery (a chain restaurant known for giant portions and beer) and ordering up what I used to call a "treasure hunt" salad. A tossed salad with all sorts of treasures inside. The salad was served with a parmesan cracker...or what they called a cracker. Basically it was baked or fried parmesan cheese that was then cooled and broken into pieces and served as a cracker. It was my favorite part of the salad. I wanted to recreate that rich and buttery, with a little tangy I decided to use the Follow Your Heart Parmesan Shreds as a crust for my Grown-Up Grilled Cheese.

That rich crust, needed a bit of sweet acidity to balance it out. And while fresh tomatoes are nice, I love the concentrated bold and bright burst of flavor you get with oven roasted tomatoes. I like to make a whole bunch at once, then cool them and keep them in the fridge for easy sandwiches later in the week.

Oven Roasted Roma Tomato Slices

3 ripe roma tomatoes, sliced into rounds about 1/8-inch thick
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
sea salt, to taste
fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a reusable baking mat.
Arrange the tomato slices in a single layer on the lined baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.
Roast for 30 to 45 minutes, until dried and wrinkly. Some really thin pieces may get a bit blackened, but that's okay. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before placing in an airtight container and placing in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4).

Yield: About 32 pieces, depending on the size of your tomatoes

And a grown up grilled cheese needs a fancy spread. I love Vegenaise, and use it up by the gallon, because it works so wonderfully as a base for all sorts of other sauces, dressings, and spreads. Especially aiolis. And this one is really packed full of flavor. It kind of tastes like French onion soup mix dip. Lol. 

Caramelized Onion and Garlic Aioli

1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
3/4 cup (120 g) finely diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon (10 g) minced garlic
1/2 cup (112 g) Follow Your Heart Vegenaise

Heat oil over medium heat in a small pot or frying pan. 
Add onions and saute until translucent and fragrant and just beginning to brown.
Add garlic, reduce heat to low, and continue to cook until completely caramelized and golden brown.
Remove from heat and cool.
Fold caramelized onion and garlic mixture into the Vegenaise and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Yield: Just shy of 1 cup

Now, I'm ready to make this sandwich. I chose cracked wheat sourdough for my Grown-Up Grilled Cheese because it's my absolute favorite bread...especially for grilling. I also chose a bitter green to to balance the cheeses, plus a surprise sweet crunch with thin slices of Fuji apple.

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese 

featuring Follow Your Heart Smoked Gouda Slices, Provolone Slices, Shredded Parmesan, and Vegenaise

For each sandwich you will need:
2 slices of cracked wheat sourdough (I use deli size)
2 slices of Follow Your Heart Smoked Gouda
1 slice of Follow Your Heart Provolone
2 tablespoons Follow Your Heart Vegenaise
1/4 cup Follow Your Heart Shredded Parmesan
2 tablespoons Carmelized Onion and Garlic Aioli (see above recipe)
4 slices of Oven Roasted Roma Tomato Slices (see above recipe)
4 slices of Fuji apple
a handful of wild or baby arugula

Assembly can be a little tricky, so I will just tell you how I do it and you can figure out what works best for you...
Preheat a non-stick griddle or well-seasoned cast iron pan over medium low heat.
Have ready a large stainless steel mixing bowl, or a large, deep frying pan with a heat safe handle.
Spread one tablespoon of Vegenaise all over one slice of bread, from crust to crust. Make sure you get a nice, thin, even layer all over the whole piece. Then press about 2 tablespoons worth of Parmesan shreds into the Vegenaise. Set aside.
On the other slice of bread, spread one tablespoon of aioli on one side of the bread.
On top of the aioli place both slices of Smoked Gouda, and the slice of Provolone.
On top of the cheese, layer the arugula, roasted tomatoes, and apple slices. Set aside.
Carefully place the Parmesan crusted slice of bread, parm side down, on the griddle, then quickly spread with aioli. 
Carefully flip the now open faced sandwich onto the facedown piece of bread in the pan and quickly spread the top of the bread with Vegenaise and press shredded parmesan into the top.
Place the stainless steel bowl, or deep frying pan upside-down over the sandwich to trap in the steam and help to melt the cheese without burning the outside of the sandwich. When bottom piece is golden brown, flip and repeat.

Overall, I love these new products! When I can't be bothered to cook everything under the sun from scratch, I really depend on convenience products made companies like Follow Your Heart to make my busy workdays that much easier. Having so many downright delicious choices when it comes to slices of vegan cheese that taste great cold or hot, is really a privilege and a blessing.

The fine folks over at Follow Your Heart were kind enough to offer up a prizepack including one of their beautiful heart shaped cutting boards, and a few of their new cheeses! I am throwing in a copy of my and Celine's newest book, The Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutions to boot! Please follow the instructions in the widget below to enter. Open to US residents 18 years and older only. Sorry international readers, I'll get you on the next giveaway!

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2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni