I was inspired recently by my friend Julie of the Little Kitchen to try a vegan version of another American Favorite Sandwich, the Philly Cheesesteak. I don’t know if I would have thought to make a Vegan Philly Cheezsteak on my own, but that’s what friends are for. Right?
I began with tofu. but not just any tofu: Slow-Baked Tofu with all the right spices. That combined with an Avocado Aioli, sautéed veggies, Daiya’s Vegan Cheddar Jack Cheese, on a crusty hoagie loaf, this vegan sandwich was was bound and determined to be a winner. And it was.
It really, really was.
I wrapped all that together in some aluminum foil and baked it in the oven, allowing the ingredients a hot and happening place to get to know one another a little better. That’s important in a sandwich.
These are not your run-of-the-mill, make every day kinds of sandwiches. Although you could if you wanted to. It takes a little time in preparing them, but they are well worth the effort.
I’m a big believer in the notion that the best things in life require a little work. That’s why I wouldn’t make this sandwich every day, but it makes a great Friday night date night meal. Oh, how I love Friday night date nights!
That’s when I pull out all the stops! Right now we’re in the middle of Wimbledon tennis. No, we’re not playing in it. (I know, hard to believe, right?? But we are watching it. Tennis is the one sport we stop everything to watch!
Except right now we’re also in the midst of some unstoppable circumstances. Family reunions. My hubby had his reunion via a cousin’s wedding in Iowa. I was disappointed not to go but I had extenuating events on my end. My own family reunion was going on right here in Kansas City…the same weekend!
Why does everything have to come at the same time?
Knowing this was all about to come down and that we would all soon be heading in different directions, I decided to make these Vegan Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches. A sort of coming together of the family before the craziness.
The results? Cheesy, garlicky goodness. Perfect for any special family meal. And now we have a leftover sandwich or two just waiting to be eaten. Let the craziness begin!
- 1 block extra firm tofu drained
- 2 medium green onions roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅓ cup Bragg or soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons agave nectar
- 4 tablespoons rice vinegar if you don't have rice vinegar, substitute apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup red and/or orange sweet bell peppers sliced
- 1 cup onions cut into long strips
- 1 cup mushrooms washed and dried
- 1 avocado
- 1 teaspoon garlic
- Dairy-free white cheese mozzarella or Monterey Jack
Heat your oven to 200F. I used my convection oven for this because it has a timer on it, but any oven will do.
Press the block of tofu with a clean dishtowel to remove the excess liquid. Slice the block in half and from there make thin slices, to resemble steak strips.
Prepare the marinade. Add the chopped green onion, garlic powder, Bragg (or soy sauce), oil, agave nectar, and vinegar to a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds until ingredients are combined, but are still a little on the chunky side. Pour a little bit of the marinade in the bottom of a baking dish. I used a pyrex 2-quart (7 X 11") dish. Then place tofu strips on top of the marinade. Cover with a bit more marinade and add another layer of tofu strips until you get to the top. I use a criss-cross pattern to lay the tofu to allow for maximum marinade coverage (MMC). MMC is important. There will be a test…next week!
Once you've laid out all the tofu strips, tilt the dish this way and that (slowly) to allow the marinade to saturate all the tofu. You can even use a spoon and allow the marinade to pool on one side of the dish and pour it across the middle of the tofu where it's needed.
Place the dish in the heated oven and bake for 1 and a half hours. I know. That's a long time, but set a timer and walk away. Go paint your nails. Get a message. Have tea and coffee with friends. You know, all those things you do on a given day. If you use an oven with a timer, you don't have to rush back; the tofu can sit in the oven as it cools down.
While you're waiting you can prepare the veggies by placing a skillet over medium-high heat. Pour some olive oil in the bottom of the pan and then cook the red peppers, onions, and mushrooms until tender and caramelized along the edges. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
You can also prepare the Avocado Aioli by mashing one avocado with 1 teaspoon garlic. Set aside.
Once the tofu has been good and slow-baked, brown them to give them some color. Using the same skillet as you used with the vegetables, place 1 -2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high. Add several slices of tofu at a time and cook until browned on one side, then turn them and brown them on the other side. Feel free to pour any extra marinade over the top of the tofu as it's cooking. That just adds extra flavor. Repeat this step until all the tofu has been browned. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
Heat the oven to 250 F and tear off four slices of aluminum foil and have them ready to place your sandwiches on.
Place one bun on each strip of aluminum foil. Spread both sides of each bun with the Garlic Avocado Ailio. Now add several pieces of the Tofu Philly Cheesesteak slices to each hoagie bun and top with sautéed veggies, and 2-3 slices of the vegan cheese.
Wrap the sandwiches in the foil, place them in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or so.
Remove them from the oven and let them cool slightly before serving. These go great with baked potatoes on the side. Oh heck, why not live a little and have these sandwiches with potato chips or french fries if you want.
If you don't eat them all, then store them in the fridge in the foil. That way when you're ready to eat, you simply put it in the oven and bake at 250 for 15 minutes or so until everything is nice and warm and melted again. Ahh, life is good.
If you're worried about sodium, reduce the Bragg (or soy sauce) by half and reduce the amount of vegan cheese used as well.