Like Philadelphia itself, there is a lot to love about the city’s signature sandwich — the cheesesteak.
But that delicious combination of beef, onions and cheese isn’t the sort of thing you want to pack away every day, unless you’re looking to pack on pounds. So I decided to see if I could make a healthier sandwich that is inspired by the cheesesteak, but is a bit more suited to the everyday.
I started by swapping out the beef in favor of that most steak-like of mushrooms, the portobello. Actually, it’s just the roomy cap of the portobello, filled to the brim with roasted red peppers, grilled scallions, olives and mushroom trimmings, then topped with melted provolone cheese, and lubricated with a little bit of rosemary mayonnaise.
Finally, the whole thing is set on a slice of grilled rustic bread. It may be meatless, but it is not a punk. And heartiness aside, portobellos — like all of their mushroom brethren — are chock-full of nutrients.
But these big mushrooms have to be cleaned before they can be savored. Start by removing the dark gills on the underside, lightly scraping them out with a teaspoon. Then simply rinse the cap on both sides under cold running water to remove any dirt. I know that some folks advise against rinsing, preferring instead to wipe away the dirt with a damp cloth to prevent the mushrooms from getting waterlogged. In fact, a quick rinse doesn’t harm them and it’s infinitely quicker and more thorough than wiping them clean. Just pat the caps dry afterward so they’ll be able to absorb the marinade.
And that’s the amazing thing about portobellos. Though they have a high water content, if you plunk them into a flavorful marinade, they still absorb it quickly.