Update Oct 2018:
As I continued through another year of being dairy-free and stalking vegan brands on instagram, I have finally had the chance to try a brand of vegan cheese that I am SO excited about: Violife America! I have been seeing so much online about them and have waited months for their products to reach the East Coast. My local Whole Foods has finally stocked their shelves with their amazing products and I have tried 3 of them: Vegan Parmesan (which looks like a wedge of Parmesan cheese!), Mature cheddar cheese slices, and provolone slices! Every single product I have tried so far has been delicious, feels like cheese, tastes like cheese, and melts! I was able to successfully make grilled cheese, quesadillas, AND cut it up and eat it like cheese and crackers! THAT is a big deal- I have rarely found vegan cheeses that make me want to eat them straight up, not as an ingredient. It is awesome and definitely a must try! In the meantime, I’ll be stocking my fridge because I’m still traumatized about my trip there two weeks ago when I ran out and Whole Foods was sold out. Serious panic ensued. Don’t let yourself run out, you will regret it and be very sad (like I was for a whole week).
My quesadilla ^^ LOOK at that Melt!!!!!
Original Post: Dec 2017
I’m going to start this off by stating you probably do not need a “recipe” for grilled cheese. It’s pretty simple- butter bread, put the cheese in it, cook it in a pan until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. BAM! You’ve got grilled cheese. Pretty simple.
This post is more about my newest discovery of Daiya Foods’ new and improved vegan cheese slices, and a general review of vegan cheeses that I’ve tried.
Over the past two years I have experimented with different vegan cheeses and have not been impressed overall. There are various cheese blocks that just taste bland and have a weird texture. I’ve had vegan friends tell me they are “sooooo good” and “taste just like cheese”. Well, guess what… they didn’t taste like cheese and I regretted putting them in my mouth. You all know how I feel about saying something tastes “just like the real thing”… I’m not going to convince myself it does.
Last year I tried Daiya’s cheese slices and thought they were okay. I was willing to put them on a burger but also liked burgers just as much without them. I wasn’t in love with the texture, although it did melt it wasn’t enough like real cheese to woo me. Now, I must say, I’m not in a fantasy world- I know it’s never going to taste just like real cheese. I just have high expectations. I used to be a major cheese addict- I ate cheese everyday, in everything I could possibly put it in (and no that didn’t include fish, I am Italian after all). I had cheese dates with girlfriends where we would sit home and eat massive amounts of cheese. I experimented with all different cheeses, had insanely beautiful cheese boards- I was a cheese snob.
After finding out I was intolerant to casein and going dairy-free, I eventually somewhat gave up on new “faux-cheese”. Over the past year I gave it another chance and was pleasantly surprised by a few vegan cheese options.
First, Daiya Foods revamped their vegan cheese formula and it now melts like a dream. Two weeks ago I went to the Poconos with friends and used their vegan provolone cheese for a grilled cheese and it was freaking delicious. Last night I made a grilled cheese with their vegan cheddar cheese and was pretty equally impressed. I think I liked the taste of the provolone cheese more in the sandwich, but I think it had more of an American cheese taste when it melted. However, I don’t really care if it doesn’t taste like the “right” cheese at this point because I was actually able to enjoy a grilled cheese after 2 years of searching! I’m really excited to try their shredded cheese again now because I’m hoping it’s equally melty and impressive.
Another cheese I’ve found that I really enjoy is by Chao. It’s a coconut based vegan cheese, and it does have a slight coconut taste when eaten cold. However, on a burger it is amazing! It’s definitely one of my favorite choices and because I knew it was made with coconut I expected to taste a tiny bit in it, which made it totally okay when I tried it for the first time. I also have to say, the Chao slices have a really nice texture and feel. When you take it out of the package it FEELS like real cheese in my hands. I would not use this for grilled cheese, though, because I don’t want my grilled cheese tasting like coconut. This vegan cheese is best paired with other foods or meats. It is good in sandwiches as well as burgers.
In terms of Parmesan cheese (because I am Italian), I needed to find something to top my pasta. My favorite continues to be the Follow Your Heart vegan Parmesan shreds. I also really liked their grated vegan parmesan cheese (which I call Shaker Cheese because you shake it out of their container), but my local Whole Foods stopped carrying it and I’m not exactly sure why.
Finally, in terms of cheese dips, I really enjoy the Treeline French-Style soft cheeses. I used to love Boursin cheeses on crackers for parties, and the Treeline Soft Cheeses are pretty similar and are well seasoned with scallions or garlic and herbs, so the flavor is really nice.
If you have other vegan cheeses that you love and think I should try, please share them in the comments below. There are definitely more out there that I have not yet tried!
And now- as promised, here is my recipe for grilled cheese:
- 2 slices of gluten-free bread (I prefer Schar’s artisanal white bread)
- 2 slices of Daiya Foods vegan cheddar cheese or 2 slices of Violife America vegan Mature Cheddar
- 1-2 tablespoons of vegan earth balance spread
- Heat pan over medium-high heat
- Slather butter on one side of each piece of bread
- Place one slice of bread butter-side down on the hot pan. Top with 2 slices of vegan cheese and the other slice of bread (butter-side up)
- Let cook for 3-4 minutes until the bottom bread gets toasted and golden-brown, then flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the other side gets toasted and golden-brown. If your cheese isn’t melting, you can use a lid to top your pan and the cheese should melt quickly.
- Plate your grilled cheese, cut in triangles (the best sandwich shape) and serve!