March 07, 2008

Grilled "cheese"

I got inspired by Vegan Dad's grilled cheese post, and I knew I had to have some. It's been so long since I've had this, and I just wanted a gooey, greasy, melty sandwich. I admit that I restrained myself in the greasy department and opted to lightly spray a non-stick griddle with olive oil and grill my sandwich like a responsible person, but thank goodness I have a bunch of the cheez stuff leftover and can go back and do it right! I mean, shouldn't a grilled cheese sandwich leave you with fingers to lick? I've photographed the responsible version, but you do what you think is best. I like to spread the outside of the bread with Earth Balance margarine and grill it until it's brown and toasty. The recipe comes from "The Uncheese Cookbook" and there are lots of versions of "cheese" to choose from. Naturally, I chose an easy one.

This makes a very thick cheez. If you want to use it right away to drizzle on pizza, use only half the arrowroot. You may also have to thin it down a bit by whisking it a little extra water.

Mostarella Cheeze
2 cups water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes (not brewers yeast powder)
1/3 cup quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)
1/4 cup tahini
4 tablespoons arrowroot (arrowroot melts when re-heated)
4 tablespoons FRESH lemon juice
1 tablespoon onion granules
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (if you like the taste of smoky provolone)

Process all ingredients in blender several minutes until very smooth.
Pour into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until very thick and smooth.
Pack into a lightly oiled, 3-cup rectangular container.
Cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

You can use this cheez right away for grilled cheese sandwiches and save the rest for another day. After it chills, you can sort of slice it. (Remember, I said "sort of.") I made sandwiches again with the leftovers and this time coated the outside of the bread with Earth Balance margarine before toasting it in my wok—more calories but more "authentic" look and taste.

Does this really taste like cheese? You know, it's made from yeast flakes and oats. That said, it makes a very tasty grilled sandwich and my kids always loved it on homemade pizza. It was also a component of my kids' favorite dish, enchiladas. I once gave a taste of something all hot and bubbly with cheez sauce to a friend who is not vegetarian, and asked her if it tasted like cheese. She said, "No. It doesn't taste like cheese, but it tastes great! What is it?" I've also taken the previously mentioned enchiladas to a potluck, where they were quickly devoured by an appreciative crowd. I haven't had cheese in more than 25 years - it tastes really good to me!

note: I just got a new copy of the updated Uncheese Cookbook now called "The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook" (my old copy is too decrepit to use any more) and there are two grilled cheese recipes - All American Grilled Cheez and Gooey Grilled Cheez. Get the book from the library and have fun. There are lots of interesting concoctions for when the dairybug comes whispering in your ear.


  1. Finally I've found someone who loves the Uncheese Cookbook! I was just commenting on the fatfree vegan forum that many people don't talk about this book, but its truly a gem!

    I have the old one...I guess I should upgrade!

    Funny... I was about to make grilled cheese tonight, but decided to try a mac & cheese instead.

    Oh and I use a George Foreman Grill with no oil when I make my sandwiches and it works well!

    Keep up your great blog...I've just joined the biosphere at (its a big scary world out there, but I'm managing my way around! :))

  2. Thanks for your comments! I admit that I used this cookbook a lot more when my kids were young, and mostly to make cheese sauce, but there are a lot of interesting choices in there.

  3. I'm really lazy. My favorite grilled "cheese" sandwich is Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese on one slice of bread, some mustard on the other, and something delicious in between, like avocado or tomato. Then I just bake it on the griddle because I don't want the extra fat. The cream cheese is melty and gooey and everything you might want it to be. I haven't tried the flavored kind yet.

  4. I'm lazy too. I don't usually have tofutti in the house but I always have oatmeal and yeast flakes so ten minutes of blending and cooking is easier than shopping. And I end up with a rather large quantity of cheez. I have another post coming up with a sandwich I toasted in the toaster oven - no added fat. I looked up the nutritional info for the recipe, and two tablespoons has 32 calories, only one gram of fat and 92 mg of sodium. I figure I can add a little smear of margarine or olive oil to the bread and still have a pretty low fat food. What's in tofutti cream cheese? Is it low fat? I'll have to look for it next time I'm at the store.

  5. Hi Andrea, I'm just new with the cheez recipes, I would like to try yours and I'm wondering how can I replace the onion granules.

  6. Alejandra, if you don't have any dried onion (onion flakes, granulated onion, onion powder) I would mince an onion and sauté it in a little oil until it softens. Then purée it with the rest of the ingredients in the blender.

  7. thanks! It is now clear what should I buy instead of onion granules.

  8. Hi Andrea,
    I made the Mostarella Cheeze and it was easy and delicious, mine was not yellow like yours, I guess because I couldn't find the liquid smoke and my tahini was made with toasted sesam seeds.

    Question, for how long can I keep the Cheeze in the fridge???

    Thanks a lot for share all your nice recipes!!

  9. Uh oh. When I made the cheez I experimented by adding some smoked Spanish paprika instead of liquid smoke. I didn't list it in the ingredients because it didn't improve the taste, and the color didn't seem very noticeable. I was hoping for something a bit more orange and smoky. Sorry about that. I should have mentioned it. (I think the lighting in the room when I took the second photo also gave the sandwich a yellowish cast, making the cheez look more yellow than it actually was.) Liquid smoke doesn't affect the color and toasted sesame tahini is great to use. I think you can keep it in the refrigerator for at least 4 days. It might start to separate slightly but that is okay.

  10. Unfortunately, Better Than Cream Cheese is NOT low-fat, and the other day I actually looked closely at the label and it has trans-fat! Bummer! I will try your stuff.

  11. hi andrea. i made this cheese and i thought it would turn out strtchy but instead when i put it on my bread it was juss like a spread..nothing like cheese :( what do i do?

  12. Anon,
    If you make the "cheese" with arrowroot it will be "melty" when you re-heat it in a grilled sandwich or on a pizza, but it won't be stretchy. Until recently, not even commercially made vegan cheese had any stretch - even melting is unique. There is a relatively new vegan cheese called Daiya, that melts and stretches. I've tried it and it does stretch, kind of. The only way to get the qualities of dairy cheese is to use dairy cheese. Homemade substitutes can be tasty, but they are quite different from dairy. If you can't find Daiya, another commercial vegan cheese you might try is Follow Your Heart mozzarella. It doesn't stretch but it will melt.


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