Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vegan Grilled Cheese and Basil Polenta Sandwiches + Homemade Coconut Mozzarella

This was inspired by Donna Hay.






I just love me some Donna Hay... It was a treasure to go the bookstore every month or so flip through her magazine or better yet, bring it home and cherish it with a hot cup of tea and a notepad to write ideas. Now of course, we don't have our Borders bookstore so sadly I do not come upon it as easily. So lately I've been enjoying my old Donna Hay magazines.

I was perusing through Issue 40 when I found an article on Instant Polenta (even polenta chips which made me smile since I've tried my hand at making polenta fries). However I really liked the idea of grilled cheese and basil polenta. YUM! All of those ingredients are amazing.

Not to be deterred by the fact I don't eat cheese. I thought I can make that. At first I thought, maybe I could completely nix the cheese and just go with basil. Nixed that idea. What if I substituted the cheese with a soft roasted vegetable? Not feeling it. Nix. What if I made cheese? YES!

I've tried to make cheese sauces before and have succeeded in edible-ity or edibility (I made that up) but not in overall amazingness. Nothing to write home about... until now.

While doing research for another recipe, I came upon a coconut milk mozzarella from Olives for Dinner, a totally new site to me, which was originally adapted from this guy Josh Hebert.

And as I really believe in crediting those who inspire you and your recipes/ideas. I just wanted to thank Josh Hebert and Erin from Olives for Dinner (not that they will ever read this) for such a great idea! And thanks to Donna Hay for also all the inspiration!



This is very mild (definitely a good taste for mozzarella) and has a slight coconuty taste, subtle but it does NOT annoyingly remind you you're not eating cheese.

I changed the recipe a bit (otherwise I would just link) but here we go.

Coconut Milk Mozzarella
1 15 oz can Coconut Milk (not lite)
5 t agar flakes
1 tsp pink Himilyan Salt (or any sea salt)
1 tsp white balsamic
4 tsp Arrowroot Powder (or tapioca)
1 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast flakes

Directions:
1. Pour can into small saucepan over medium-low heat until completely mixed.
2. Add remaing ingredients, except for nutritional yeast. Boil then simmer for ten minutes while frequently stirring.
3. Pour into flat-bottomed glass dish (This is was Erin's tip) and let gel for an hour or stick in fridge when cool for later use.

Also I didn't have instant polenta but this would be a much quicker fix if you did. You could also prepare the sandwiches and stick them in the fridge to heat up when you get home from work. Nom nom nom.

If you have have instant polenta, this will only need to cook 3 minutes. Regular is almost ten times as long.

Polenta
3 cups water or vegetable broth
1 cup regular polenta
2 garlic cloves, minced
Large Handful Fresh Basil
Pinch of salt

Directions
1. Boil water.
2. Whisk in polenta, garlic, and salt. Reduce Heat. Stir Frequently for 20-30 minutes until thickened and not sticking to sides.
3. Pour half into loaf pan with nonstick baking paper. Top with mozzarella, basil leaves then remaining ingredients.
3. Refridgerate until set, at least 40 minutes.


To make Grilled Cheese and Basil Polenta Sandwiches:
1. Remove polenta from loaf pan (by pulling up nonstick baking paper).
2. Cut into squares or triangles.
3. Heat a little coconut oil (or any oil) on skillet on medium-high heat, add sandwiches. Grilling on both sides for five minutes.

Question of the day: Is there any food you miss? Have you found any delicious substitutes?

Most of all I miss cheese and greek yogurt. They were so delicious and creamy!

12 comments:

  1. This mozz looks amazing! Will be making this for brunch sometime soon. Your photos and blog are breathtaking!

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    Replies
    1. Why thank you for visiting! Let me know how it turns out!

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  3. A few questions, if I may:

    Does this cheese shred, crumble, melt and/or freeze?

    Is there a substitute for white balsamic?

    If you've attempted this recipe using coconut milk from a quart/jug (e.g., unsweetened So Delicious brand), were your results the same, or is full-fat canned coconut milk essential to the success of this cheese?

    Thank you! I hope to have finally found a pizza moz for my dairy-allergic husband. :)

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    Replies
    1. You can use coconut vinegar as a subsititute for the white balsamic. (available here)

      If you go to this link http://sweetroots.blogspot.com/2012/06/vegan-quesadillas-homemade-coconut-milk.html
      You can see the cheese most definitely melts.

      It's a soft cheese but after sticking it in the fridge, I was easily able to melt the cheddar cheese (but it has a couple of bulkier ingredients). If you prefer to grate this, halve the vinegar and double the tapioca or arrowroot powder (and let it sit in the fridge before grating). I think grating is just extra work so I like that I can just shred this cheese with my hands. But if you were going to freeze it, I would grate it first.

      As for using So Delicious brand or any quart of coconut milk, I do NOT recommend it. The reason this has such authentic cheese behavior is the full-fat canned variety.

      I hope this helps!

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  4. I made this last night, after successfully making the cheddar and gobbling it ALL up but the mozzarella for some reason the agar flakes didn't melt in properly. Even when I heated it under the broiler on my toast, it didn't melt the flakes that are still visible in the cheese. Do you think the agar gets tough after the package has been opened? Still tastes DELICIOUS but the chunky agar is obviously a mistake I made!?

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  5. Is it 5 teaspoons of agar or 5 tablespoons?

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    Replies
    1. It is 5 teaspoons. Sorry for the confusion.

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  6. I am making this right now and am so excited to try it! Do you add the nut. yeast after taking it off the heat? I will try that for now. :)

    Thanks for the great recipe!

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  7. I only have agar powder. How much should I use!?

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  8. I am wondering about the nutritional yeast. You state not to add it, but then you don't say after that when to add it in. Could you clear this up for me, I would love to try this, just not sure about the yeast. Thanks a bunch.

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