Smokey Grilled Cheeze Panini featuring “SPREAD”: “Cheeze that’s to LIVE for!”


Welcome to the first post of my new blog theme! Ben and I have been working on coming up with a new design for Claire Tastes for a while now, and we finally found this one! We wanted something that would showcase the pictures (I mean, that’s all that ya’ll look at anyway, isn’t it?) and otherwise be pretty minimalist. Keepin’ it classy. I can’t wait to see how this one evolves over time! Still working on a header logo, but I am told that I can’t do it all. Or at least not all at one time. 🙂

Anyway, this weekend was my White Coat Ceremony (more on that in a later post) and so my parents were down visiting from CT. Eager to do all the Durham-y things, we noshed at Nosh (see what I did there?), went to the Durham Farmers’ Market, went biking on the ATC (ok that was just me), took Samoa for a walk, and enjoyed a fun dinner at the Mediterranean Deli in Chapel Hill. Oh, I guess that last part isn’t Durham-y. But it is still amazing and you need to go.

At the Farmers’ Market (which my dad, who knows farmers’ markets, said was the “best one he’d ever been to”), I just had to introduce them to my “cheese friend Justin,” the long-haired, bearded man who stands just on the outskirts of the market near the fresh-squeezed lemonade stand. Justin and I bond almost every week as I bike down to the market, and every week I take his samples and have the (very legitimate) excuse that I “can’t actually buy anything today because I don’t have a way to get it back.” Well, this time, I told Justin, I will definitely be buying some “cheese” because my parents brought a car! Justin and his wife work at SPREAD, a Gourmet Plant Based “Cheeze” that is vegan, soy-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free. If you’re wondering what’s left to make anything good out of, there are always almonds! And that’s exactly what you’ll find here- its main ingredient is almonds! Low in saturated fat and rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, SPREAD is freshly made in Downtown Durham and sold at Whole Foods as well as the Durham Farmers’ Market. You can like their Facebook page here.



I’m no vegan, and I don’t have an issue with gluten or soy products (or dairy, for that matter), Since I am a lover of all things almonds, I was instantly hooked. They sell a cheddar variety, smokey variety, and jalapeño variety. All are equally good (and yes, I know this because I sample them every week. Don’t judge me.) They taste almost like hummus, but a little more dense and well, cheesy. Justin has told me that they make a great sauce for mac and cheese, a theory which I definitely will be testing out. So far I’ve been sticking to using SPREAD (I bought a container of the smokey kind) on sandwiches and crackers. Uh-mazing! It gives a great little kick to a sandwich and works in place of hummus AND cheese. Since today was a rainy, dreary day here in Durham, I decided to make some grilled “cheeze” on Ezekiel bread (which I have also gotten into lately and LOVE). I added a bit of red pepper flakes and basil on top of the spread, topped with spinach, red onion, and tomato, and pressed it in the Geroge Foreman for about 6 minutes at 350 degrees. Served next to a mug of lentil soup with a dollop of greek yogurt on top, and some juicy red cherries!

The perfect cozy-day lunch! Happy Monday!



Smokey Grilled Cheeze Panini with Gourmet Plant-Based “SPREAD”
Recipe Type: Panini
Cuisine: Lunch
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
The perfect lunch for a dreary Monday afternoon! I used SPREAD, a Gourmet Plant Based Cheeze made of almonds, and spread it on the bottom slice of this panini to give it an extra smokey kick!
  • 2 slices Ezekiel bread
  • 2 tbsp SPREAD Gourmet Plant-Based Cheeze (I used the “smokey” variety)
  • Sprinkling of red pepper flakes
  • Sprinkling of basil
  • Fresh spinach
  • 2 slices tomato
  • A few slices of red onion
  • S&P
  • Cilantro, to garnish
  1. Preheat George Foreman or panini press to 350.
  2. Spread the Cheeze SPREAD on the bottom slice of bread.
  3. Sprinkle red pepper flakes and basil.
  4. Layer spinach, tomato, and red onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Top with other slice of bread.
  6. Press in George Foreman for 6 minutes, until cheese is melted and onions are soft.
  7. Serve on the side of a mug of lentil soup, with a dollop of greek yogurt and fresh cherries! Garnish with cilantro, if desired.


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