This creamy mushroom tartine is my take on vegan croque monsieur. Sourdough bread, sautéed mushrooms, and melty vegan cheese. The perfect savory brunch.
The journey to this recipe started when I got the urge to veganize my favorite brunch meal: the croque monsieur. For the unfamiliar, this French cafe classic is a broiled ham and cheese sandwich with bechamel sauce and more cheese melted on top. It’s crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside – every bite is pure indulgence.
When I spent a month in Paris during college, I ate it practically daily since it’s one of the few things you can get at a brasserie any time of day. I didn’t at all mind subsisting on these, because a croque monsieur is basically the perfect food: bready, cheesy, savory. It goes with coffee as well as it does with wine, and it is the ideal hangover breakfast. (And when you’re studying abroad as a 20-year-old, every breakfast is a hangover breakfast.)
So naturally, I wanted to veganize it. I referred to one of my favorite French cookbooks, which has a vegetarian croque with mushrooms, so the real challenge was replacing the cheese. That’s when I came across this melty vegan cheese technique and this creamy mushroom tartine was born.
What is This Creamy Mushroom Tartine
This mushroom tartine is a warm open-faced sandwich with sautéed mushrooms, creamy vegan cheese, and the tiniest bit of Dijon mustard to cut through the richness of the sauce. Along with a crunchy green salad (and maybe some roasted potatoes?), it is the perfect vegan brunch – and it works for dinner, too.
How to Make This Mushroom Tartine
Start these tartines by sautéing mushrooms in olive oil. I like to season them plainly with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Meanwhile, get started on the melty vegan cheese – the pièce de résistance of this sandwich. First, you’ll need to soften some raw cashews to make them easier to blend into a smooth sauce. The easiest way to is to simmer them in water for 10 minutes.
Combine the drained cashews with water, seasonings, and arrowroot in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Seasonings like nutritional yeast and miso make the sauce taste cheesy, while arrowroot (a thickening starch) will make the sauce thick and viscous – almost like fondue.
Then transfer the sauce to the same pot where you softened the cashews and bring it to a simmer, whisking constantly. After a few minutes, it’ll transform into a thick, rich, “cheese” sauce.
Finally, pile the mushrooms and sauce on bread, and broil the tartines for a few minutes, until the bread is crisp and the “cheese” lightly browned.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Cashews: It’s important to use raw (not roasted, not salted) cashews – they will yield the richest and most neutral-flavored cream sauce. Raw skinless almonds can be used as a substitute.
- Arrowroot: This is a thickening starch extracted from a plant root. Sometimes labeled “arrowroot flour”, this ingredient is interchangeable with cornstarch. (It’s considered healthier because most corn these days is genetically modified.) You can find arrowroot in many supermarkets – and in health food stores – in the gluten-free/alternative flours aisle. I use Bob’s Red Mill brand. I believe tapioca starch can also be used as a sub, though I haven’t personally tried it.
- Nutritional yeast: A “cheesy” vegan seasoning sold in most supermarkets. Look for Bragg or Bob’s Red Mill brands.
- Miso: A fermented soybean paste traditionally used in Japanese cooking. It also adds a salty, savory, “cheesy” note to this sauce. Look for it in the refrigerated section, often next to tofu.
- Mushrooms: You can use a combo of different ones, or stick to plain cremini.
- Bread: Hearty whole wheat sourdough is perfect for these mushroom toasts. Ciabatta or pumpernickel would also be good options.
Tips for Making This Melty Vegan Cheese
- Do not skip the cashew-softening process (step 1 below), as it will ensure a smooth, clump-free sauce.
- Whisk the sauce constantly while it comes up to a simmer. This will prevent it from sticking to the pot and forming clumps.
- Like any dairy sauce, this vegan melty “cheese” will thicken as it cools. To get it back to spreadable consistency, just warm it up again. You can warm the sauce over low heat on the stove (stirring often), or in the microwave in 10-15 second increments, stirring between each increment.
- The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also use it in lasagna, on nachos, or stir it into pasta for a take on mac-and-cheese.
Check out these other vegan brunch ideas…
- Chickpea Crepes with Creamy Spinach and Mushrooms
- Banana Walnut Pancakes
- Russian Fried Potatoes with Mushrooms and Dill
- Shiitake “Bacon”
This creamy mushroom tartine is my take on vegan croque monsieur. (Cheese recipe adapted from Sam Turnbull)
For the Cheese Sauce
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons white miso
- 1 teaspoon mild vinegar (like apple cider, red wine, or white distilled) or lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Pinch of grated nutmeg (optional)
For the Sandwiches
- 8 ounces mixed mushrooms, like cremini, shiitake, and/or oyster, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 large slices whole wheat sourdough bread (or another hearty good-quality bread)
- 2 teaspoons Dijon or brown mustard
- Start the cheese sauce. Place the cashews in a small pot and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
- Drain the cashews and transfer to a blender or Nutribullet (reserve the small pot). To the cashews, add 1 cup water, 2 tablespoons arrowroot, 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 2 teaspoons miso, 1 teaspoon vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. Blend until completely smooth, about 1 minute.
- Transfer to the reserved pot and place over medium heat. Whisk the mixture constantly while it comes to a simmer to prevent it from sticking and getting clumpy. As it gets hot, it will start thickening around the sides of the pot; then it will start bubbling. When the mixture is thick and creamy (like fondue), turn the heat off. The whole process takes 3 to 4 minutes. Season with nutmeg (if using) and black pepper. Set the sauce aside.
- Meanwhile, turn on your broiler. If your oven doesn’t have one, preheat the oven to 500ºF.
- Start the mushrooms. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms with 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Cook until they’re golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
- To assemble, spread a very thin layer of mustard on each piece of bread and place on a baking sheet. Then spread on about a tablespoon of the cheese, spoon on the mushrooms, and top generously with more cheese. Drizzle very lightly with olive oil (optional, see Note) and sprinkle with black pepper. Broil until the tops are golden brown 3 to 5 minutes (keep an eye on them – they can burn quickly). Serve immediately.
I drizzle the tartines with oil because it makes them glisten, which helps the “cheese” look like real cheese. Feel free to skip this step if you want.
- Serving Size: 1 tartine
- Calories: 335
- Fat: 15 g
- Carbohydrates: 42 g
- Fiber: 6 g
- Protein: 10.5 g
Keywords: mushrooms, tartine, vegan, cheese