Vegan Cheeze Toast with Mushroom Bac’n

Usually the food on this blog is pristine whole foods or very close to it.  But there is a time for vegan comfort food.  Like after an 8 hour drive from Montreal to the tiny town I call home.  On the way, I was able to score some fresh Shiitake and oyster mushrooms.  And you all know that a vegan can turn anything into bac’n.  A bit of CHAO cheeze, avocado, home-made bread and you have something pretty close to heaven.  When even the household omnivores keep asking for another corner of your meal you know you’ve made something memorable.  So here’s the details and you can have some too.

Yield: 2 open-face melts

What you need for the mushroom filling:

  • 3 oz oyster mushrooms; broken into smallish pieces
  • 4 oz Shiitake mushrooms; stems removed and caps sliced thickly
  • 1 small onion; sliced lengthwise thinly
  • 1 tablespoon dark toasted or light virgin sesame oil
  • a dash or three of liquid smoke
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons barley malt (how sweet do you want it?)
  • 2 or 3 teaspoons tamari (how salty do you like it?)

What you need for the melts:

  • 2 slices whole-grain bread, toasted; sourdough preferred
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 recipe of mushroom filling
  • 2 slices CHAO cheeze (whatever kind makes you happy)
  • Dukkah for garnish (optional but recommended; a zippy blend of spices and nuts which hails from Egypt and makes pretty much everything more special)

What you do for the mushroom filling:

  1. Heat a cast-iron pan or heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat.  When hot, add the oil and the mushrooms.
  2. Toss the mushrooms in the oil and spread them out in an even layer in the pan.  Let it all cook awhile.  When the mushrooms are making squeaky sounds and start to be browned, add the onion slices and toss.                                                       IMG_3007
  3. Keep cooking until the onions are somewhat charred in places and the mushrooms pretty well cooked with lots of roasted bits.
  4. Lower the heat to medium low and add a dash or three of liquid smoke and the barley malt.  Toss it with the onions and mushrooms and let it bubble some.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tamari.  Mix thoroughly and then remove it from the skillet or pan so the tamari doesn’t burn.  Set aside for use as a filling or topping: or eat it straight up.

What you do for the melt:

  1. Get the broiler of the oven going.
  2. Mash half an avocado over each slice of bread, buttering it with all that creamy green goodness.
  3. Top each slice of avocado-slathered bread with half of the mushroom bac’n filling and a slice of CHAO cheeze.  (No, I am not paid by them, nor do they sponsor me – it’s just the best commercial vegan cheeze we’ve got up here in Canada in my biased and humble (or not so humble) opinion.)
  4. Place the melts under the broiler until the cheeze is gooey or as done as desired.
  5. Serve immediately, each melt dusted with some Dukkah if desired.


  • Add BBQ sauce in there somewhere;
  • Swap the barley malt for some maple syrup when making the mushroom filling.

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