When Pete and I lived in San Diego, so long ago, there was a little hole in the wall restaurant, actually just a sandwich shop, that sold authentic Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches. The husband and wife who owned this delectable little shop were actually transplants from Philadelphia, so we had to take their word for the authenticity of their sandwiches, since we had never experienced these wonderful, cheesy, oniony, heavenly creations. Now you see them all over the place---even in any shopping mall's food court. We never did find any that we liked as well, however. For a time, I even resorted to using Steak-ums (those very thin, frozen steaks) to make my own sandwiches....not bad, but not great either. So, this weekend, wanting to fulfill a craving, I thought about those sandwiches and what it was about them that I liked so well. Guess what? It really wasn't the steak (although I am, most definitely, a carnivore) that made this sandwich so tasty for me. I discovered that it was the combination of the caramelized onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and melty cheese on top of a very good roll, that made the sandwich. Since I really wanted to make something that my meatless daughter would eat, it occurred to me that an avocado might just make a good substitute for the steak. Boy howdy...does it ever! This is what I came up with:
Faux Philly Cheese "Steak" Sandwiches with Lemon-Dill Mayo
¼ cup light mayonnaise
¼ cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh or freeze dried dill
½ teaspoon salt-free lemon pepper seasoning
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium, sweet onions chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 cups sliced mushrooms
Salt and pepper to taste
4 hoagie rolls, split
8 thin slices provolone cheese
2 ripe (not mushy), avocados, sliced
1 tomato, sliced (optional)
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, dill and lemon/pepper; set aside.
My husband liked this mayo stuff so much it was gone before I had a chance to spread it on the sandwiches. He was sitting on the sofa dipping chips into it.....
I'm not afraid to use convenience food. I found this freeze- dried dill in the produce section. It's perfect for me since it needs no refrigeration and it won't spoil by the time I decide to use it. It was a bonus that it tasted good, too!
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to the pan and allow it to heat for a minute or two. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, red bell peppers and green peppers. Sprinkle with sugar and cook for about 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, mushrooms and salt and pepper. Cook an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until mixture is caramelized.
I didn't really measure the olive oil...just eyeballed it.
You can use just green bell peppers if you want. I just like the color of the red.
Push the onion/pepper mixture to one side of the pan and place a split hoagie roll on top of some of the hot oil, to brown the roll; remove from pan. Spread the toasted roll with about a tablespoon of mayo. Arrange about one half of an avocado on the bottom part of the roll; set aside.
The reason I used such a large skillet was so that I could push the onion mixture around and toast the buns in the olive oil. If there isn't enough oil, just brush a little on each roll before you toast them in the pan.
Working with ¼ onion mixture at a time, cover it with two slices provolone cheese. Allow the cheese to melt slightly and then, using a spatula, carefully lift the portion of cheese/onion onto the avocado. Top with tomato, if desired, sprinkle with a little more pepper and serve. Repeat with remaining rolls.
It has taken me many years, but I finally figured out the way to take the pit out of the avocado. Stick a knife in it and twist.
A Philly Cheese "Steak" with no meat. How cool is that?