Not-my-Dad’s Patty Melt (vegan!)

Patty melts.

This is a food that causes the weirdest, contradictory feelings and memories for me. It’s almost a sensation, where memories from now intertwine closely with memories from before I began my passionate love affair with vegan foods.

As a kid, I hated (HATED!) the smell, taste, aroma, and idea of eating or even cooking a patty melt. I hated onions, I hated rye bread, and I was definitely more of a hot dog kid. Thinking about patty melts, I get this strong memory of my Dad, because it was really one of his favorite foods. And to me, since I wouldn’t touch the things, it was a “Dad food.” Thinking about my 10-year-old self smelling the onions cooking makes my eyes sting a little bit. I don’t think twice about the meat or the cheese or the butter or the oil. I don’t think twice about my dad’s diabetes or the fact that everyone in my household is overweight or obese.

I now drool at the idea of making a patty melt, but what its made up of is totally different. Organic caramelized onions, flavor integrity preserved by cooking without oil. Plant-based Daiya cheddar “cheese.” Hearty veggie and grain burger. Artisan seedless rye bread. The smell of the onions cooking makes my mouth water now! (No, really. Onions like this are one of my favorite foods even though my mom couldn’t get me to touch the things as a kid. This has to be my 4th or 5th post mentioning them already!) My mind compares the 2 foods: how many less calories, zero cholesterol, fewer processed sugars and refined oils, nothing artificial… I wonder how my dad would like my adaptation of one of his heart-clogging favorites. After just one bite, I’m actually pretty sure he would have liked it!

It’s intriguing how deeply some foods – actually, any aroma, flavor, even texture – how deeply they can root themselves into not only a memory but actual feelings about people, places, things, and especially, time. Do you have any foods that you have a strong connection or dislike as a kid but now love? Do these foods cause a strange sensation regarding your relationship to food?



  • 2 slices rye bread of your choice (whole grain preferred, but today I cheated with a Jewish seedless rye)
  • 1 veggie burger (I used Amy’s All-American)
  • 1/4 cup Daiya cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance (I choose soy-free)


  1. Preheat skillet over medium-high heat until hot enough for water drops to hop around on the surface.
  2. Add onions to skillet. Stir constantly to ensure even browning. Remove from pan once caramelized.
  3. Grill veggie burger until cooked through.
  4. Evenly spread Earth Balance over 2 slices bread.
  5. Place first bread butter side down onto skillet. Top with burger, onions, cheese, and remaining slice of bread, butter side up.
  6. Flip sandwich carefully when bread is grilled to grill other side.
  7. Serve with tomato soup and a hearty green salad.