This vegan tomato basil grilled cheese sandwich is so gooey, cheesy, and delicious. You just can't get this kind of taste and texture from store bought vegan cheese.
Oh beautiful melted, gooey, stretchy, warm, and satisfying grilled “cheese” sandwich, you are my new best friend.
Just look at that cashew cheese dripping down the edges of that golden brown and crispy toasted bread. Check out the juicy tomato and the savory basil leaves, and that freshly cracked pepper. Can you even stand it? You want this, don’t you? You want it more than you’ve ever wanted any sandwich in your entire life! I know you do, and you can have it, it’s just minutes away if you have the ingredients. If you don’t have what you need to make this, get yourself over to the supermarket and buy them; because that craving you’re having, it’s not going away.
It’s been a long, cold, and snowy winter, the kind that makes you want to eat warm food only . Grilled sandwiches are a must when the weather dips below freezing, and you know that there is nothing more comforting and satisfying than a vegan grilled tomato basil cheese sandwich to make the harshness of winter a little softer. It’s really a necessity at this time of year.
I was watching the Pioneer Woman while I was running on the treadmill yesterday – don’t you just love her ranch – and she was making tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Seeing that sandwich put me into a fog, I was lucky that I didn’t wipe out on the treadmill because I lost all consciousness of my surroundings and went into a, how do I make this vegan, coma. I was so deep in thought, just me and my imagination, that someone could have turned off the Pandora on my IPhone and I wouldn’t have noticed. It was just me and the cheese all alone in my brain.
As dangerous as those kinds of black outs can be for me, they are also so productive. I mean, just look at what I came up with!
My thoughts took me back to the vegan lasagna that I made a few weeks ago. Remember that? It was all about the cashew cheese that I discovered on My Wife Makes. As my feet were pounding the rubber on the treadmill I suddenly saw the light at the end of the tunnel. No, not that kind of light, it was a ta-da kind of light. You know what I’m talking about. It dawned on me that I might be able to cook that cheese a little longer, to make it even thicker and stretchier so it would feel like melted cheddar or provolone. Bazinga! Take that dairy cheese!
As you can see, it worked. I kept the cheese on the stove for two minutes longer, until it was stiff and super stretchy. And, I added some nutritional yeast to give it a little color and a cheddar like flavor. You don’t have to do that if you prefer white cheese. I was just in the mood for a taste of cheddar.
The cashew cream turns into.....
The beauty of this cashew cheese is that it firms up even more when you bake it, so I started off with an open face sandwich and put it in the oven for a few minutes to make sure that the cheese was really firm (but it was still nice and melted), the tomatoes were slightly cooked, and the basil crisped up ever so slightly.
Instead of using vegan butter (I’m really trying to stay away from processed foods) I brushed olive oil on the bread. Genius! It’s so much better than butter, I actually wondered why I hadn’t done that years ago. I guess old habits die hard.
After I took the sandwich out of the oven I transferred the pan to the cooktop and heated it up for about a minute, so that the bread got a nice golden brown and had grill marks. Then, I put the two pieces together and, voila!
That first bite, oh my goodness. It was beyond my expectations. It was seriously the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. The cheese was so thick, and gooey, and delicious. I was worried that it might be too runny, but it wasn’t. It was like melted cheese is supposed to look and taste like. Perfection!
So why go to all of the trouble to make a vegan cashew cheese when I could have picked up some vegan cheese from the supermarket? Well, first of all, I’m not a fan of processed food, and those store bought cheeses have a lot of stuff in them. My cheese is simple and completely natural. Secondly, I don’t like the taste of those cheeses. They taste fake to me. Thirdly, I'm not sure that they would melt and taste the way this cheese does. Also, you’d probably have to use many pieces of cheese to get such a thick and creamy sandwich.
You know what would go great with this vegan grilled tomato basil cheese sandwich? Roasted tomato basil soup. Wouldn’t that be an amazing winter lunch or dinner? Try our soup with this sandwich, then come back and tell me what you thought.
Vegan Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Cashew Cheese
- ½ cup of cashews – soak in water for 20 minutes if you don’t have a high powered blender
- 1 cup of hot water
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of tapioca starch
- 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
- ¼ cup of nutritional yeast optional
- 4 slices of whole grain bread
- 4 thin slices of tomatoes
- 6 large basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh ground pepper optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°
- Cashew Cheese
- Put the ingredients in a blender and blend until it’s the consistency of cream. You shouldn’t be able to see pieces of the nuts.
- Pour the cream into a medium sauce pan and heat on medium for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture should be thick and stretchy, like melted cheese. Remove from heat and cool for ten minutes.
- Brush the olive oil on one side of each slice of bread and put the oiled side face down on a grill pan or a skillet. Spoon the cheese over one piece of bread, add two tomato slices and three basil leaves. Gring fresh cracked pepper on top if desired. Leave the slice that doesn’t have the cheese on it aside.
- Put the pan in the oven and bake for approximately 4 minutes or until the basil leaves begin to crisp up. Use an oven mitt to grab the handle of the pan and move to the stove top. Turn the heat on to medium-high and toast the bread until it’s golden brown. Put the piece of bread that was set aside on top and flip to brown.