Vegan Portobello and Cashew Cheese Panini with Arugula

Vegan Portobello and Cashew Cheese Panini with Arugula
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About This Recipe

In the culinary tapestry of Napa Valley, where the vineyards and farms offer a bounty as varied as the wines themselves, a new vegan delight has emerged, capturing the essence of this rich landscape. The Vegan Portobello and Cashew Cheese Panini with Arugula is more than just a meal; it's a celebration of the valley's commitment to sustainable, plant-based cuisine, showcasing the depth and versatility of vegan ingredients against the backdrop of wine country's gastronomic excellence.

Crafted with the finest locally sourced ingredients, this panini brings together the robust, meaty flavors of portobello mushrooms with the creamy, indulgent texture of cashew cheese. The mushrooms, marinated in a blend of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic, offer a savory depth that complements the tangy freshness of the arugula and the crisp sweetness of the red onion. Served between slices of artisanal sourdough bread, this sandwich is a testament to the simple elegance of Napa Valley's culinary traditions.

Pairing this vegan panini with wine might seem challenging, but the diverse array of vegan-friendly wines produced in Napa and Sonoma makes it an exciting endeavor. A light, crisp Sauvignon Blanc, such as those from Frog's Leap Winery, can cut through the richness of the cashew cheese, while a Pinot Noir with subtle earthy notes from Robert Sinskey Vineyards can complement the umami flavors of the portobello mushrooms. For those who prefer a non-alcoholic option, a sparkling water infused with lemon or cucumber from Calistoga's natural springs offers a refreshing counterpoint to the savory notes of the panini.

Creating this Vegan Portobello and Cashew Cheese Panini was inspired by the abundance of fresh, organic produce available in the markets of Napa Valley, such as the Oxbow Public Market and the farm stands dotting the landscape from Calistoga to Sonoma. It reflects a growing desire among residents and visitors alike to enjoy food that is not only delicious but also conscious of health and the environment.

This panini is more than a meal; it's an invitation to explore the vibrant, plant-based side of wine country cuisine. It's perfect for a leisurely lunch on a sunny vineyard patio, a quick bite during a wine tasting tour, or a comforting dinner after a day exploring the rolling hills of Napa and Sonoma. As the culinary scene in Northern California continues to evolve, dishes like this Vegan Portobello and Cashew Cheese Panini with Arugula stand as a delicious reminder of the creativity and sustainability at the heart of wine country.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Cashew Cheese

Cashew cheese, the heart of our Vegan Portobello and Cashew Cheese Panini, epitomizes the innovative and health-conscious approach of Napa Valley's culinary scene. This versatile vegan delight, made from raw cashews, offers a creamy texture and a rich, subtly nutty flavor that perfectly complements the meaty portobello mushrooms. Beyond its delicious taste, cashew cheese represents a commitment to sustainable and ethical eating, aligning with the wine country's ethos of mindful indulgence.

How to Make Cashew Cheese

  1. Soak Cashews: Begin by soaking raw cashews in water for at least 4 hours, or overnight. This softens them, making them easier to blend.
  2. Blend: Drain and rinse the cashews, then blend them with fresh water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and garlic until smooth.
  3. Season: Add salt and any additional seasonings to taste. For a firmer cheese, refrigerate for a few hours before use.


  1. Can I use another type of mushroom if I can't find portobellos? Yes, large cremini mushrooms or even slices of eggplant make great substitutes.
  2. Is there a gluten-free bread option for this panini? Absolutely. Many bakeries and grocery stores offer delicious gluten-free sourdough options.
  3. How should I store leftover panini? Wrap the panini in parchment paper and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in a panini press or oven for best results.
  4. Can I make the cashew cheese nut-free for allergy concerns? For a nut-free alternative, try using sunflower seeds or boiled and blended white beans with similar seasonings.
  5. What's the best way to clean portobello mushrooms? Gently wipe them with a damp cloth or paper towel. Avoid rinsing under water to prevent them from becoming waterlogged.

Tips for Success

  1. Preheat the Panini Press: Ensure your panini press or grill pan is preheated for a crisp exterior and evenly melted cashew cheese.
  2. Thinly Slice the Veggies: Thinly slice the red onion and tomato to ensure every bite is balanced in flavor and texture.
  3. Press Down Firmly: When cooking, press down firmly on the panini to compact the ingredients together, allowing for a more cohesive sandwich that's easier to eat.

Incorporating these tips and techniques can elevate your Vegan Portobello and Cashew Cheese Panini from a simple meal to a culinary experience, showcasing the best of Napa Valley's plant-based cuisine.

Recipe Overview

Vegan Portobello and Cashew Cheese Panini with Arugula
Lily Anderson
4 servigs
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and stems removed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cashew cheese, softened
  • 8 slices of rustic sourdough bread
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Preheat a panini press or grill pan over medium heat.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Brush this mixture over both sides of the portobello mushroom caps.
  3. Grill the mushrooms for about 5 minutes on each side, or until tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Spread cashew cheese on one side of each bread slice. On four slices of bread, layer grilled portobello, arugula, red onion, and tomato slices. Top with the remaining slices of bread, cashew cheese side down.
  5. Grill the sandwiches in the panini press until the bread is toasted and the filling is warm, about 5 minutes.
  6. Slice each panini in half and serve immediately.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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