Vegan Croque Monsieur

Partial disclosure: this is really just a recipe for a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich

Full disclosure: the ham’s not ham (it’s vegan ham!) and the cheese isn’t cheese (it’s “cheez”!).

It is, however, delicious!

Bid and Paul are currently on a three-week jaunt in the Loire Valley and have been posting pictures online of their various amazing meals every day. I’ve been salivating over the various dishes, but the two that have struck my fancy most were a Margherita pizza they had in Paris and a Croque Monsieur at a small outdoor restaurant in Brissac-Quince.

The reason I was so taken with the pizza is that the best meal of my life was a Margherita pizza and a carafe of ice cold rose I shared with a friend in Nice in 1978. Another reason the meal was memorable was that the waiter overcharged us, and my friend spoke even less French than I do….so I was the one who had to argue with the waiter in terrible, terrible French. I normally would have let the error pass rather than so thoroughly embarrass myself, but we were down to our last few francs.

The Croque Monsieur was compelling because the two times I traveled to France on my own, it became my daily meal because it was delicious and filling….but mainly because it cost only five francs, which was about a buck twenty-five in the late 1970s.

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And, of course, every country has its own version of what is essentially a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich. The Croque Monsieur contains bechamel sauce as well as ham and cheese. The Italian version is deep-fried (yum yum) and, if I recall, often served cold.

Anyway, I was having a hankering for something in the line of a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich, so I baked up some of my no-knead whole-wheat bread in a loaf pan (to create sandwich-style bread)…

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…and cooked up a quick cheez sauce (this one’s REALLY good!):

Quick Cheez Sauce (for making grilled cheez sandwiches)

Ingredients:

1 cup cashews

1 cup boiling water

1 cup strongly flavoured vegetable broth (add a tsp of BTB if the broth is weak)

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp liquid smoke

Directions:

Cover the cashews with boiling water and let sit for ten minutes. Drain and add the cashews and the rest of the ingredients to the bullet and blend until smooth (no grittiness from the cashews should remain).

Pour into a saucepan and heat over medium heat, whisking continuously, until thick. This will take only a few minutes:

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The last thing you need is a slice of Yves Veggie Ham:

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Oh, and a bit of vegan margarine and a dollop of that vegan mayo I made yesterday.

Spread one piece of bread with the mayo, top with a slice of the veggie ham, then a nice dollop of the cheez sauce.

Butter the outside of each slice with the vegan margarine, and fry on medium heat in the frying pan until nicely grilled.

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It’s even better if you fry up a few chopped onions to top it all off!

James enjoyed his vegan Croque Monsieur (okay, okay…vegan “ham” and cheez) so much that he asked for another!

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