I Ate the Vegan Cheese (again)

This going vegan for 30 days thing? It’s real. It’s gonna happen. My biggest concern? Life without cheese. I love cheese. You are looking at someone who used to make her own cheese. I could make a pretty mean manchego (not that hard – seriously).

I have tried vegan cheese here and there.¬†Usually it ends up in the garbage. For the most part, I cannot stand the stuff. It tastes awful. It melts terribly. I do not care what they say about it on the package. It doesn’t taste like cheese or anything I should be eating at all. I have considered that if I want cheese, then I should just eat cheese, and if I’m going to have a vegan meal, then that means no cheese-like substitute. But, for some reason, I refuse to give up until I have tried every brand of fake cheese there is. I think I am hoping that I’lll find Spread in sliced cheese form.

This week, I was reading the latst issue of Chili Pepper Magazine. They had a recipe for grilled cheese sandwiches with poblano peppers (and bacon). I thought it sounded tasty, but I wondered, could I do a vegan version of it? The thing with Chili Pepper Magazine is that most of their recipes are not for vegetarians. I have a subscription, and I have been lamenting how I cannot eat most of what they have. But then I started to wonder, how many of these recipes can I veganize or use to inspire a vegetarian version of something similar?

So off to Whole Foods I went in search of vegan cheese that didn’t suck. I think I found it with Follow Your Heart. They have a list of products, including vegan cheese. I bought the Vegan Gourmet Cheddar Cheese. They claimed it melts well. I thought – we’ll see about that. I also grabbed a pack of sliced cheddar cheese (real cheese) in case the vegan cheese was bad. Gotta be prepared!

Of course I had to experiment in advance. I’m not going to make an entire sandwich and then toss it out. I took a bit of bread, put a bit of the vegan cheddar on it, and popped it in the microwave. Guess what? It melted pretty good. No complaints. Before I ate the melted version, I ate a small bite plain. Mmmmm….not really a fan. I don’t see myself slicing up vegan cheese and eating it straight up as a snack. But the melted version on the bread? Really, really good! I was impressed, and surprised. So I got a slightly bigger piece of bread and did the whole thing over again. Yep. Still good.

The real show of course will be when I actually make the sandwich (stay tuned for a follow-up post). Of course, there are flaws with this sandwich. It’s not totally vegan. The bread is sourdough and likely not vegan. I may grill it using butter instead of Earth Balance (not a fan). This is just a step forward to try out the idea of taking a recipe and making it vegan. I’m new to this. One thing at a time here.

Also, the original recipe calls for bacon. I’m not putting bacon on. My sandwich will have just peppers and vegan cheddar cheese. But maybe this is something to think about for the future. Would something like seitan work here? I don’t know. I’m not a eater of seitan or tempeh. If you have thoughts, chime in.