Sunday, October 19, 2008

Portobello "Steak" and Cheese Sandwiches

A few weeks ago a friend of mine was coming over for dinner. When I asked him what he would like, he thought that some type of sandwich would be good. I am up for sandwiches anytime, so I immediately liked the idea. Possibilities began flying through my mind and I began to crave steak and cheese with sauteed peppers and onions (commonly called a "cheesesteak"). The only problem here is that my wife doesn't eat beef, so I would either have to make some chicken as well or convince her to settle for a pepper and onion sandwich. I also remembered that this particular friend is trying to cut down his red meat consumption, so he might not want steak and cheese. As I mentioned these things to him, he reminded me about a portobello mushroom sandwich I had made one time in the past, which was basically a grilled portobello cap with some balsamic vinegar and mozzarella cheese on a nice roll, and the wheels started to turn in my mind. I figured I could replace the steak with thick slices of sauteed portobello mushroom, keep everything else the same, and make everybody happy (except possibly myself). The sandwich would be healthier for certain, and eventhough I was a little skeptical that it would satisfy my craving, I enthusiastically went forward.

I had recently made an Italian bread recipe that was absolutely incredible, and I figured it would make equally incredible sub rolls. Luckily I had the day off from school in observance of Yom Kippur, which gave me some extra time for a little baking (okay, a lot of baking, some sourdough loaves, multigrain bread, and a quadruple batch of brownies in addition to my sub rolls, which are across the bottom of the rack in the picture).

So basically all I did was slice up a few peppers and onions, then saute them in a little oil over pretty high heat until the onions were soft and browned a little bit. Then I sauteed the sliced portobellos until they were tender. I put the veggies in a baking dish and covered it with foil until I was ready to make the sandwiches. In the meantime, I made some oven fries. When I was ready to make the sandwiches, I just heated a nonstick pan, put down some mushrooms, covered them with a generous portion of peppers and onions, and topped that with some provolone cheese. When the cheese melted, I slid the pile of veggies onto a roll, spread a little mayo on the top, and that was it.

The result? An incredibly good veggie version of a steak and cheese sandwich. I was extremely satisfied. The melted cheese mixes with the mayo and juices from the vegetables which begin to soak into the bread creating one of those whole is greater than the sum of the parts experiences. I honestly did not miss the steak at all. I will definitely be making these sandwiches again.

Portobello "Steak" and Cheese Sandwiches
About 30 minutes - Serves 4

It's my belief that your sandwich is only as good as the bread you put it on, so don't skimp on the rolls. If you're not into baking your own, make sure you get some rolls from a bakery or a good deli that makes their own.

Saute the mushrooms, peppers, and onions in advance and you can then put these sandwiches together in about 5 minutes whenever you're ready to eat.

I love mayo and provolone, but if you don't like one or either of these, of course feel free to substitute cheeses and condiments as you like.
  • 24 ounces of portobello musroom caps (about 10 caps), sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 onions, sliced thin
  • 2 green peppers, cored, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 8 slices of provolone cheese
  • Mayonaise
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 sub rolls
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until the oil starts to shimmer
  2. Saute the onions and peppers, tossing occasionally, until they have softened considerably and the onions start to brown, approximately 6 to 10 minutes, remove them from the pan to a dish and cover
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan, add the mushrooms and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then saute the mushroom slices, tossing occasionally until they become tender, about 5 minutes, remove them from the pan to the dish with the onions and peppers and cover until you are ready to make the sandwiches
  4. When you're ready to make the sandwiches, slice your rolls and spread mayonaise on both sides (as little or as much as you like) and heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat
  5. Place 1/4 of the portobellas in the pan, top with 1/4 of the peppers and onions, salt and pepper to taste, and top all the veggies with 2 slices of provolone cheese
  6. When the cheese melts, use a large spatula to transfer everything to a roll
  7. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients to make 3 more sandwiches

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