Total time:15 minutes
Through his popular Instagram account, best of vegan, and the new book of the same name, Hansen has set out to prove both ideas wrong. In the book, he features some recipes he developed and others he worked on with collaborators, including such tempting concoctions as Hawaiian tofu musubi, Sri Lankan squash curry, Baja California-style “fish” tacos, and the one that I share here. , Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Jalapeno Popper.
It also takes aim at critics who react to so many vegan recipes with the same ill-informed (or malicious, depending on how you look at it) questions: “Why create vegan versions of non-vegan dishes?” and “Why not just call them something else?” For the first, he writes: “Because veganism, in essence, has nothing to do with not wanting to eat animal products and everything to do with not wanting to harm animals. Many of us grew up eating and loving animal products and made the switch solely for ethical reasons. That doesn’t erase a lifetime of memories associated with eating meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.”
The second question? It’s one I often find myself answering as well, and Hansen’s answer is the best I’ve ever read. “Someone who misses tuna isn’t going to search for ‘baked marinated watermelon cubes,’” he writes.
“Growing up, my fish fingers didn’t look like fish at all and my chicken nuggets didn’t look like live chickens,” she writes. “That is why I believe that describing vegan products using terms associated with non-vegan foods is not as problematic as some make it out to be. In general, I think it’s more useful than not.”
Hansen brings a wealth of experience cooking vegan recipes to the table, and as someone who spent much of her life eating a more conventional diet, she knows what it takes to satisfy both veteran vegans and diners just getting started.
Grab this grilled cheese recipe. Hansen knows that vegan cheeses sometimes “need a little help melting,” as she put it, and some recipes address this by asking you to add a little more oil (like I did when I made a vegan “frico” in spring) or to cover a pan to add moisture from steam. His recipe uses a method he’s never seen before: You stack the pieces directly into a nonstick pan, and don’t add a slice of bread to each pile until they’re melted. I’ll admit to being a bit skeptical that I could easily change the combination, but it worked beautifully.
That bread, by the way, is first spread with a mixture of vegan cream cheese, spices, and jalapeño slices, which is where the popper idea comes into play. The result is messy, in a good way, I mean really good. It’s an indulgent sandwich, with textures and flavors from the crusty bread, melted cheese, and jalapeno zing that are anything but boring. Eat this whether you’re vegan or not and you’ll never believe that fallacy again.
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Jalapeno Popper
The recipe calls for 1 or 2 jalapeños; use 1 for a mild spice, or 2 if you enjoy it a bit spicier.
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- 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese, such as Miyoko’s
- 1 to 2 fresh jalapenos, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced (you can substitute 10 sliced pickled jalapenos)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- A pinch of ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted vegan butter, such as Miyoko’s, divided
- 1 cup shredded vegan cheese, such as cheddar or mozzarella
- 4 slices of sourdough bread
In a small bowl, mix cream cheese, jalapeno, chives, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, melt half the butter. Add the vegan cheese strips to the pan in two mounds roughly shaped like the bread slices.
While the cheese is melting, spread the cream cheese mixture on each of the four slices of bread (about 2 tablespoons per slice).
Once the cheese is melted, top each stack with a slice, cream cheese side down, and gently press down.
Using a spatula, carefully flip the bread and cheese over, add the rest of the butter to the pan, and place the remaining bread slices on top, cream cheese side down. Cook on each side until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
Calories: 597; Total Fat: 34 g; Saturated Fat: 13g; Cholesterol: 0mg; sodium: 1117mg; Carbohydrates: 63g; Dietary Fiber: 7 g; Sugar: 2g; Protein: 15g
This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.
Adapted from “Best of Vegan” by Kim-Julie Hansen (Harper Design, 2022).
Tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to email@example.com.
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