I just couldn't let National Grilled Cheese Month slip away without doing at least one grilled cheese sandwich!
Before I became vegan, grilled cheese sandwiches were my specialty. A fancy grilled cheese was the first thing I ever cooked for Chris. He asked me to marry him that night. We'd been dating less than a month. I didn't answer- I just laughed. Little did I know...
A very basic grilled cheese was the first thing I ever cooked for the twins. I had to cut off the crusts for them because they didn't eat crusts back then. Chris and I disposed of the crusts by eating them. We don't like to waste food.
Though the grilled cheese sandwich and I have quite a history (the white bread/Kraft single combo and I got pretty close during my college years), I've never had a tuna melt. Before I was vegetarian, back when I ate tuna, I only liked tuna mixed with mayo, mustard, and pickled relish. Nothing else. Melted cheese? Uh, no thank you. That just sounded gross. By the time I was into crazy grilled cheese sandwich combos, I didn't eat tuna anymore. I can happily say that I honestly don't know what I was missing.
I can also happily say, though, that when I first tried a vegan "tuna" melt, it was love at first bite. It was at a restaurant in LA, called Flore, and the salty, vinegary tempeh "tu-no" salad (as they call it) topped with warm creamy cashew cheese rocked my world. Rocked. My. World. I've been a fan of vegan "tuna" melts ever since.
The "tuna" salad for this sandwich is made with shredded jackfruit (is there anything this fruit can't do?) and mashed white beans, then mixed with mayo, dijon mustard, and pickled relish, just like I like it. The jackfruit is cooked briefly and seasoned with kelp granules, giving it that seafood taste. It was absolutely perfect. For the sandwich, I topped the salad with a generous helping of Trader Joe's new vegan mozzarella shreds. For store-bought vegan cheese, this stuff is awesome. It melts and stretches better than daiya, in my opinion, and it did not disappoint in this sandwich.
It's been a long time since I've made any sort of grilled cheese sandwich for Chris and I. It was so fun to sit and have a melty, cheesy sandwich, packed with a super tasty filling, just like we used to back in the day. The fact that the sandwich was wonderfully compassionate and ridiculously delicious didn't hurt either.
- 1 can of jackfruit (packed in water or brine, not syrup), rinsed and drained
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 onion, diced (about a 1/2 cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon kelp granules
- 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1 cup cooked great northern white beans
- 1/4 cup vegenaise
- 2 tablespoons pickled relish
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- juice of 1 lemon
- 4 slices of bread
- greens of some sort (optional- I used pea shoots)
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 2/3 cup shredded vegan cheese
- olive oil spray
- Use a fork to pull apart the jackfruit into shreds (until it has a tuna-like consistency).
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a couple minutes. Add the jackfruit and let it cook, stirring occasionally, until the jackfruit's moisture is gone. Add the kelp granules and add salt to taste. Remove from heat.
- While the jackfruit is cooking, start the salad. In a bowl, use a fork to mash the white beans. Once they are thoroughly mashed, add the rest of the salad ingredients and mix together. Once the jackfruit is done cooking, add it to the salad mixture and mix until fully coated. Taste and add seasoning, if necessary.
- Turn on the broiler of your oven. Layout the 4 slices of bread. Place a small amount of greens (your choice) on two of the slices of bread. Top the greens with the tomato slices, then top the tomato with the jackfruit salad (about a heaping 1/2 cup per sandwich). On the remaining slices of bread, spread out the grated cheese.
- Place the two slices of bread, topped with cheese, on a baking sheet and place it in the oven, under the broiler. Let sit under the broiler, just until the cheese begins to melt, about 2-4 minutes. Remove and place the slices on top of the slices topped with the jackfruit salad.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium-low heat and lightly spray with olive oil. Place the sandwiches in the pan, cheese side down. Let cook until cheese begins to melt. Lightly spray the tops of the sandwiches with the olive oil. Flip the sandwiches and cook on the other side. Flip again if needed. The sandwiches are done when the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted. Remove from the pan and serve immediately. Enjoy!
What's your favorite type of (vegan) grilled cheese sandwich?
Photography by Chris Miller
That is one gorgeous looking sandwich! In my tuna-eating days, I never tried a tuna melt either. I was into cheese, but the idea of having it with fish sounded unappetizing to me as it did to you. But jackfruit with vegan cheese? I could get into that!
I hope that you are around to answer this asap. I want to make these "tuna Melt" sandwiches tonight for dinner. The first thing you say to do is combine the CASHEW CHEESE SPREAD ingredients and set aside. I am assuming that cashew cheese spread would have cashews in it? No where on the recipe list are cashews so I am thinking that you forgot to put that recipe on the blog but I cannot find in in the Search section of your blog. Please Please Please let me know the ingredients asap. Leaving in a few minutes!! Thanks So Much! LOVE your Blog and Food
Hi Kellie, Sorry about that! There is no cashew cheese spread. The first time I made it, I used a spread, but the second time, I made it without and liked it better. Unfortunately, it looks like I didn't hit "save" after I deleted those instructions. Sorry. There is no cashew cheese. If you wanted to use a cashew cheese spread (though, like I said, I prefer it without), I would use the spread I used on my Kumquat Pizza (you can look for it in the search form).
I hope you enjoy it! Take care! 🙂
What Kellie said.....
Cashew cheese spread???
Sorry about that, Lindy. Please see the response I left for Kellie. The recipe has been updated. Thank you both for notifying me! 🙂
i don't think i ever had a tuna melt, either! but i did have a slight obsession with tuna and potato chip sandwiches. i love that you used jackfruit for this! you're so innovative 😉
I havent had a tuna melt ever before.. but oh.. myy.. lord... this looks ridiculously good!
oh i and i remmeber my mom telling us to eat the crust coz all the nutrients are in there ;).. of course after baking a bazillion breads, i know better.
My mother tried to sell me the same line. Where DID that untruth come from?? And why were so many moms on board with it? LOL
Wow, I've been focusing on April being National Poetry month but this sandwich is making me think about my priorities. I haven't tried jackfruit yet but I keep hearing about it. Oughta keep my eyes open!
Alexandra @ Delicious Knowledge
I'll be honest, I've never had a tuna melt sandwich. The thought of seafood and cheese has never paired well in my mind BUT I keep seeing more vegan tuna melts on menus so I figure there must be some truth in it. And, considering vegan options tend to taste better than meat ones- I definitely want to try this!
I LOVE jack fruit! I'll have to give this a try—tuna melts were one of my mom's staples when we were growing up. She would top them (open faced) with Kraft cheese slices and then broil them. She ALWAYS burned them 🙂
Abby @ The Frosted Vegan
Jackfruit just keeps coming around and doing awesome things, but I have yet to find it! I'm on the hunt for sure now : ) Also, really excited abotu the TJ's vegan cheese, thanks for cluing me in!
Found some at the Asian Market. You can probably find it at most international food stores as well.
Courtney @ The Fig Tree
Wow! This looks DELICIOUS! I've never had jackfruit before, but definitely need to give it a shot. Cannot wait to try this. I'm drooling looking at the photos! YUM!
Jamie | Thrifty Veggie Mama
I have never tried jackfruit but I keep hearing about it! I really need to find some!
Girl, I was the tuna melt queen! Addicted! But I've missed out on VEGAN tuna melts somehow. Happily, I recently acquired several cans of jackfruit and I have a batch of homemade "Brie" which I think would work perfectly here. Lunch is served.
I've never had a tuna melt, and I've only had jack fruit as "pulled pork," but the tuna melt looks so tempting I think it might be time to update my experience!
I loved tuna melts and yours looks beautiful....BUT where the heck can I find Jackfruit in brine???
Thank you! I usually get my jackfruit at ethnic markets, though I've been told that it can be found online as well. Recently, at our local Whole Foods, I found some, but I don't think this is quite the norm yet for WF. 🙂
Wow, I've never heard of jackfruit, but I used to LOVE tuna melts so I will definitely be checking this one out!!
Before I went Vegan I never ate seafood, the stuff always grossed me out... who knew... but I make a sort of one with garbanzo beans instead of jackfruit.. I never thought to use jackfruit.. I must try it... I may pass on the kelp just because of my previous dislike of seafood..lol
I never thought of cheese either..thanks for the recipe
This looks so yummy!! For anyone who wants to make this but can't find Jackfruit, try artichoke hearts! They have a great texture and are easy to find.
Okay I really need to get my hands on some jack fruit- that stuff seems magical! I LOVE a good grilled cheese and I Love Vegan tuna melts...I had never had a tuna melt before going vegan - I love the one from Sticky Fingers in DC- SO GOOD!!!
My favorite Grilled Cheese would be one made with baby spinach, tomato, mustard and sometimes "vegan ham" SO GOOD! Justin loves his with vegan bacon and cheese only 🙂
Kristy! It's simply fantastic! I wish my family liked the Trader Joe's vegan cheese more, I thought it was really good, but they all poo pooed it. Argh 😉
where do you find jackfruit in a small can?
looks great! I miss tunafish sandwiches!
I don't know if I would call it a small can, but I get them at my local asian/indian market. 🙂
Does natural jackfruit work the same for these recipes?? I live where I can only find it as the whole thing and not canned, is there a difference?
I've never used fresh jackfruit but I think you would need a younger, unripe jackfruit so it wouldn't be sweet. You would have to manually remove the (edible) seeds because in the caned version, the seeds are already removed. I hope that helps!
Sounds yummy and can't wait to try! I will check my Whole Foods store this weekend or will be on line searching for jackfruit. Thank you for helping me expand my vegan meal choices : )
When the recipe says to cook the jackfruit in a pan...how do you know if it is done? Does it get brown?
The jackfruit will release some water while it's cooking. It won't get brown, but it will be done when it stops releasing so much water. Does that make sense? Let me know if you have any other questions. 🙂
Wow this looks sooo good! How much of the "tuna" do you think this recipe makes? I'm trying to calculate how many people I can feed with this recipe 🙂
Thank you so much!
Thank you! I would say you could make 4 to 6 sandwiches with the tuna salad. I hope that helps! 🙂
Delicious! I've been craving grilled cheese sandwiches lately (pregnant, anyone?) and this sandwich really hit the spot.
One thing though, you never mentionned where to put the tarragon… is it with the cooking jackfruit or with the salad?
Thanks for the great recipes!
I absolutely love Jackfruit!!! I will have to try this recipe out!
I need this in my life! Looks amazing!
amy (Wooden Spoon Baking)
Jackfruit? How interesting! Never eaten one before, but will keep this in mind if we ever live somewhere they're available again! I make chickpea "tuna" sometimes and my unsuspecting mother totally loves it.
Joseph Chance Watkins
comedown mama this is a Good looking sandwich, thanks for sharing the recipe with us; Jesus Christ Bless you! 🙂
Hi Kristy. This recipe is appreciably different than the one in your cookbook. Which version do you now recommend?
I like them both. I think the one here may have a little more depth of flavor, but the one in the book is much easier to prepare and tastes just as good. I think you'll be pleased with whichever you make. Good luck!
To clarify my above post, I do not mean the cheese, which is in this one, but not in the cookbook version. I am talking about the differences in the jackfruit tuna, itself, between the 2 versions.
After trying jackfruit one other time in failed a pulled-pork attempt, I was hesitant to try this recipe. I also eat my fair share of chickpea "tuna" sandwiches.
I've got to say I am so glad I tried this today! It was delicious and even my meat-eating husband loved it (of course, I used dairy cheese on his). I used what I had on hand (cannellini beans and Daiya mozz shreds). Thank you for sharing this recipe!
This was dinner for me and hubs tonight. I just used whole wheat sandwich bread and Daiya cheddar (I had both on hand already), and instead of broiling and toasting on the stove, I used our panini press!! I spread just a little bit of Earth Balance on the outside slices, and grilled them up to toasty, melty perfection! This makes a vegan prego mama very, very happy!! Thanks for the delicious recipes!! 🙂
I've only been able to find the orange coloured jack fruit packed in syrup, will this be a 100% fail?? Online I did see a cam where the contents look whiteish, or at least more tuna coloured looking.
Unfortunately, the jackfruit packed in syrup will not work. It's a more ripe, sweet jackfruit that has been infused with they syrup so it won't work in savory applications. The jackfruit packed in water or brine is unripe and less sweet, making it more of a blank slate for absorbing flavor. It's firmer texture also makes it better for acting as a meat-like substitute. I would recommend ordering some online. Here's a package of 3 cans: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GRR8KES/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00GRR8KES&linkCode=as2&tag=keitki-20&linkId=GLFJ27WLV5RN6OLQ
You can actually use fresh jackfruit for these types of recipes. Sure, it gives it a little 'sweeter' taste but it's just as good. You may, however, have problems finding it in the US. I'm in Thailand, where it's everywhere 🙂 And, as it's now jackfruit season, I'm going to try your recipe for the tuna melt tonight for dinner. Thanks for this 🙂
what's the calorie and nutritional count?
Sorry- I don't have the nutritional information for my recipes.
Sounds and looks delicious!
Any adjustments if I'm using fresh jackfruit??
I've never used fresh jackfruit so I can't comment on this. I do know that the canned version I use is young, unripe jackfruit so if choosing a jackfruit, you may want a younger one.
I was going to ask the same thing. I just picked my first jackfruit from my tree and it tastes too sweet for this. I imagine it's much like breadfruit, where you use the unripe fruit for a more savory flavor, and let it get soft and overripe for a sweet flavor?!
I use canned unripe jackfruit, packed in brine.
I made this recipe the other day and it was wonderful! I used Trader Joe's canned jackfruit and it worked out perfectly. I didn't have dried tarragon so I omitted it, but Ill be sure to pick it up next time. I used 1T of regular mustard and 1/2T of dijon - I was afraid the family would complain that 1.5T of dijon would be too spicy as they are sensitive to dijon mustard.
Well, I guess I do things bass ackwards. I bought green jackfruit in brine at Trader Joe’s, and googled how to use it. Thanks for a terrific site!
This was delicious!! My pescatarian husband and omnivore father even liked it! Granted they had real cheese, but whatever. I used Trader Joe's jackfruit and just soaked it in hot water after shredding to get all the brine out. I used more garlic because....well because garlic is amazing. Couldn't find kelp granules but I did find kelp powder at Sprouts - wound up using 1 tsp in the jackfruit and then another tsp-ish in the dressing. Also really delicious in a wrap! Thanks so much for the awesome recipe!
1) Can kelp powder be used instead of granules?
2) Where can I purchase kelp granules?
I made the pulled pork sandwich and my meat eating husband said he loved it. It was soooo delicious so I plan to try every one of your recipes made with Jack fruit. I'll bet he won't know the difference. Just as long as I don't tell him whats in it.
Kelp powder should be fine- I would just use a little less. I usually get kelp granules in the spice section of my natural foods store, though sometimes, they can be in the asian food section instead.
Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I recently decided to adopt a plant-based diet and having recipes like this at my disposal is making it so much easier for me than I thought it would!
It tastes delicious for what it is and mirrors the flavors of a tuna salad well enough to satisfy any cravings. My dad tried this and even though he normally detests tuna salad, he thought this was delicious and was surprised at how similar to tuna it tasted!
This is my favorite recipe to make so far! Plant-based diet or not, I think you would definitely enjoy this!
I didn't make the full tuna melt, because I was looking for something cold. Added celery and ate with crackers.
Um, this was DELICIOUS! This is one of those concoctions you make for your non-vegan friends to impress them. I altered a couple of things but only because of missing ingredients, and it held up. Thank you!
Wondering if you could premake the salad and keep in fridge for cracker dipping and sandwich making during the week? Has anyone tried that? Not sure how jackfruit keeps but I feel like it would only get more flavorful???
OMG so good just made it and it was everything I expected super happy with the results ❤️🙌🏾🙌🏾