There is something truly special about eating outdoors. Nothing beats the smokey, buttery flavor of fresh barbecued corn, sharing a bottle of wine with a close friend at a park, or simply enjoying a peaceful lunch on a bench under a shady tree. Being outside can transform any meal into a magical occasion. One of Ryan’s favorite childhood memories was going to summer concerts at the Oregon Zoo with his family and enjoying the wonderful picnics that his mom would thoughtfully pack in a woven basket filled with assorted snacks, drinks, and sweet treats. The best part was sitting on a big, comfy blanket with everyone enjoying hot and delicious sandwiches while watching great live music. This mouthwatering recipe inspired by those fond memories, in which savory melted Gruyère cheese blends with sliced scallions, aromatic dill, white wine vinegar, and cubed tofu on a toasty buttered roll, makes a hearty vegetarian sandwich that is light and perfect for a summer day.
Gruyère, which comes from Switzerland, is an ideal cheese, as it melts beautifully with its nutty and salty flavor. This versatile import is also used to make classic dishes like french onion soup, croque-monsieur, and Swiss fondue, all of which feature its smooth texture and sweet undertones that complement sharper flavors like garlic, onions, and white wine. Here we slice it into small cubes rather than grating it, resulting in small pockets of molten cheese in every bite.
The inspiration for this delicious baked dish came from a recipe in the newspaper over twenty years ago. While it originally called for shrimp, our vegetarian version uses diced tofu that is blended with fresh, flavorful ingredients in a meal that is extremely quick and easy to prepare. So whether you decide to serve this as the main entrée for a summertime dinner or bring it to a romantic picnic in the park, this elegant meal can be enjoyed anywhere… in your dining room or under a clear blue sky.
Tofu Gruyère Melts
16 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 1/2 ounces Gruyère cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
heaping 1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
8 hamburger buns (with sesame seeds, if desired)
butter for spreading onto buns
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine the tofu, cheese, green onions, dill, salt, mayonnaise, and vinegar, and stir until evenly combined.
To assemble each sandwich, place a square of foil (about 10 inches wide) on the counter. Spread butter onto both sides of a hamburger bun, and place the lower bun in the center of the foil. Scoop 1/8th of the tofu mixture onto the bun, then place the other half of the bun on top. Wrap the sandwich tightly in the foil, and set aside. Repeat until all 8 sandwiches are assembled. Place wrapped sandwiches on the middle oven rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot, and enjoy!