Ooey, gooey, decadent, kind of crazy … this meatless Monte Cristo is definitely that. Bunny food, no. Unless your bunny happens to love uber-cheesy bliss in the form of a rich, golden brown, batter-dipped grilled cheese sandwich.
Monte Cristos are an intriguing sandwich. Quick, oh-so scintillating history lesson: They’re generally considered to be a variation of the French Croque Monsieur, really coming into their own in the 1950’s or thereabouts, when Disneyland started offering them in their restaurants.
The typical Monte Cristo has ham and turkey and cheese (Gruyere or Swiss). Then it’s dipped into a French toast-like egg batter, and fried until golden brown and melty. It’s served with–get this–powdered sugar sprinkled over the top. And fruit preserves. Like red currant jelly or strawberry jam.
To make a meatless version, I thought I would forgo the meat substitutes and instead use a second cheese–smoked cheddar to be exact–to give the smoky flavor the meat would normally lend to the sandwich. When I first tested it, I wasn’t completely sure it would work, but it did! Hallelujah!
For the batter, I basically use my standard French toast recipe, omitting the vanilla, which just didn’t feel right to me. But I do go a little heavier on the nutmeg. I think it works perfectly with all that glorious cheese.
It’s a big, giant, slightly smoky, melty, golden-brown, lightly sweet grilled cheese that’s just basically heaven, especially when dipped into a little strawberry jam.
Total comfort food. Totally not health food.
Note: I use Tillamook cheese in this sandwich, and almost exclusively otherwise. The cheeses in this Monte Cristo–and most all of Tillamook’s cheeses–are made with vegetable rennet.
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