Vegan Monte Cristo Sandwich – Vegan MOFO Iron Chef Challenge!

I haven’t entered any of the Vegan MOFO cooking challenges yet since I had no idea what I’d make with the ingredients given. This one was a no brainer…

We were given three ingredients to work with, Sunflower Seeds, Grapes and Hot Peppers. I used the hot peppers in the dried variety.

With those three ingredients, I created 3 recipes you’ll need to make this sandwich, a Savory Grape Focaccia, Thick “Ham Slices” and a Sweet and Sour Grape-Pepper Jam

Savory Grape Focaccia

  • 1 1/2 C. organic unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 C. white whole wheat flour
  • 1  c. warm water
  • 4 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 1/4 t. active dry yeast
  • 2 t. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 T. dried rosemary
  • 2 T. sunflower seeds (for topping)
  • 1 C. grapes, cut into halves (I used red and green)
  • 1 t. crushed red pepper flakes

Focaccia Dough: drizzled with olive oil, pressed with grapes and sprinkled with sunflower seeds, red pepper flakes and dried rosemary

Method: Combine flours, half the salt, half the olive oil, the active dry yeast and the warm water in your kneading apparatus (or use a large bowl and your hands) knead dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled, about an hour. Lightly oil a 9×13 pan with extra olive oil then roll press the dough into the pan with your hands to fit the sheet.  Drizzle the dough with remaining olive oil and smooth it all over the surface with your hands. Press grape halves all over into the dough, sprinkle with sunflower seeds, red pepper flakes and the remaining salt. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In the meantime, let dough rise again until doubled in size, about 30 more minutes. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until crust is golden and crispy. Remove from pan and let cool on a cooling rack. Cut into sandwich sized pieces, I got 8 nice sized pieces.

Thick “Ham” Slices

  • 2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 C. of my grated smoked coconut gouda or other vegan mozzarella cheez
  • 1/4 C. minced onion
  • 1/4 C. vital wheat gluten
  • 2 T. nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 C. sunflower seeds
  • 1 t. celery salt
  • 1 T. liquid smoke
  • 1/4 C. vegan fakin’ bacon type bits (I buy mine in bulk at my local health food store, mine have no artificial colorings or unsavory ingredients)
  • 1/4 C. masa harina (finely ground corn meal used for tamales)

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If your food processor isn’t broken like mine is at the moment, add all ingredients and pulse til combined. Otherwise, dump everything into a bowl and squish it all to bits with you hands. Beans should be mostly mashed. Press mixture into a lightly oiled (I used pan spray) 9×13 baking dish and score into 8 even pieces with a knife. Spray the mixture with a bit of pan spray and bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked through and and lightly browned. Remove “ham” slices from the pan with a spatula and let cool on a cooling rack.

Sweet and Sour Grape-Pepper Jam

  • 2 C. grapes (I used all red grapes)
  • 1/2 C. grape juice concentrate (the purple kind from concord grapes)
  • 2-4 dried red chilies, snipped into bits
  • 1 clove finely minced garlic
  • 2 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 2 t. dry Pomona’s Pectin powder
  • 1 large pinch calcium powder from the Pomona’s Pectin calcium packet

Method: Blend all ingredients in the blender until small bits remain intact, pour mixture into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes then pour into a clean glass jar. Jam will set and thicken while it cools.

Additional Assembly ingredients for the Monte Cristo Sandwich: 

  • Sliced Tomatoes
  • Sliced Avocado
  • Sliced Smoked Coconut Gouda or Vegan Mozzarella Cheez
  • Spinach or Lettuce Leaves
  • Vegan Mayo

Assembly: Preheat your oven on the broil setting, Slice focaccia pieces in half to make sandwiches. On a baking tray place thick “ham” slices and cover with slices of smoked coconut gouda. Spread jam from above on the bottom half of the focaccia pieces, cover with spinach, avocado, tomato slices and smoked coconut gouda slices. Broil all on top oven rack until cheez is melted, about 2-4 minutes. Slather top half of focaccia piece with vegan mayo and some of the jam. Put it all together, see if your mouth will possibly fit over it. If you are feeling absolutely ridiculous, sprinkle the sandwiches with vegan powdered sugar before serving.

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72 comments

    1. Ha! Funny how I was stumped by the other challenges and this one just threw itself at me ;) I think thoughts are impulsive like that, either it’s gonna work or it isn’t. :)

      1. Isn’t that the best? When you instantly know what to make, and don’t even have to think about it? Those things usually seem to come out much better than the ones I intentionally try to create…..

        1. Love that, cooking comes from inspiration, Days that I’m not inspired means nothing is good enough to go on the blog and sometimes things end up in the trash ;)

    1. Thanks Heidi :) The grapes look pretty, but to be honest with you I think they’d do better in a sweet bread. It was fun putting this together though!

    1. Aw, thanks frugal! I had to cut the sandwich in half and smash it down with my palm to make it edible, it wasn’t very aesthetically pleasing at that point…

    1. Thanks Cadry! This was my first time entering anything so I wasn’t sure if I followed the rules right, but looking at the other entries, I think I won’t get DQ’d :)

  1. Wow – I am very impressed! Glad I have these ingredients around from my own iron chef recipe – so excited to make this!

  2. Such a sandwich is possible? Is not only possible but replicatable (is that a word?) in my own humble little kitchen?! Vegan mofo has been a real eye opener! I haven’t ever followed it before but look at what I have been missing! I feel a Homer Simpson “Doh”!!! coming on. I can’t wait to get off my derierre, race over to the cupboard and get prepping. I can whack on a good Bowie full album or two on Youtube, I can bop back and forwards dodging the irritated man trying to check the Facebook account… “sorry babe, won’t be more than a minute…how many beans in that faux ham stuff?” and over the process of my day (gotta make the cheeze too ;) ) I can assemble this monumental epitath to vegan degustation? Much like Henry Winkler in Little Nicky “I can do it!”. Forget covering with bees…I will be covered with delicious vegan heaven and most probably tears of pure joy will be streaming down my face as I sample this amazing concoction. Steve, of course, will be staring at me and wondering (again) why he came from the U.K. to marry this crazy woman in Australia…”too late babe…your stuck here now! ;)”

  3. Somer–the foccacia and jelly look incredible and I am so excited to try them. Delicious! Lucky for me, someone brought me some grapes left over from a wedding reception yesterday. How fortuitous! I’m looking forward to VVP on Thursday!! Thanks for all the super sweet comments. I “attended” an online blog conference over the weekend, and someone was talking about their first faithful follower–of course, I immediately thought of you! Thanks for reading. It means a lot. Especially since you’re such a fabulous cook yourself.

    1. Aw, Rosalie you are too sweet! The challenge wasn’t really a challenge in the end, MOFO just did a round up of the posts from the participants, from which I received a “whole” 16 views from their site. Wasted Saturday, delicious dinner…. ;)

    1. Guess what? No winners this round…? There was just a round up of all the posts on the MOFO site. Not sure what the challenge part was about. Ah well. It was fun anyways ;)

      You are a sweetheart!

    1. I’d mail you one, but it might get messy and not taste very good by the time it gets there. ;)

      Hey are you in the virtual vegan potluck? We just had a drop out and could use one more blogger. I think salad is the course available….

    1. Haha! Yup, pretty much spent all of Saturday afternoon in the kitchen, I would have liked to photograph the sandwich in the daytime, but couldn’t pull it together quickly enough! xx

  4. WOW! I am so impressed. You have taken your cooking and blogging to a whole new level of creativity. All 3 of these ingredients are so original and sound so tasty. I am especially excited about the ‘ham’ slices as I do miss a good meat sandwich. Thanks so much for all you do for the plant-based, and ‘almost’ plant-based eaters :-)

    1. Hey! Thanks. I’ll admit, they have none of the texture of ham, but they do have a nice smoky meaty flavor. I need to take it down a notch, cooking like this is fun but too time consuming and crazy for realistic every day eating!

  5. In the trash… That’s always my question – to toss or not to toss :-) Sometimes I think that makes me less creative, not wanting to waste… But it guess it happens to all of us LOL

      1. Yea! I’m getting much better at re-utilizing the disasters, and using up leftovers in creative ways. I’m going to start adding more of those to my blog also (I have one so far – “The Banana Pancakes that Weren’t”), to make it more of a practical blog instead of just the perfect recipes :-)

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