Okay, I have never had a REAL Philly cheesesteak, so I have nothing to compare this to. Also, I had mozzarella in my fridge, so I used that instead of buying vegan cheese. So there’s that. But. BUT. This is an AWESOME sandwich! Not sure if it’s the tofu that makes it, or the garlic avocado aioli, but wow, this was so good. This is not a sandwich that you whip up on the spur of the moment- it does take some planning. You need to marinate the tofu, then slow bake it. The tofu still comes out rather soft, so it doesn’t have the texture that your typical cheesesteak meat would have, but on its own, it’s still very good. You aren’t going to fool any meateater into thinking this is a “real” Philly cheesesteak, but it’s a fine sandwich!
Vegan Philly Cheezsteak
Slow-Baked Cheezsteak Tofu (See Recipe below)
4 hoagie rolls
1 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
Sliced mushrooms (optional)
Garlic Avocado Aioli (See Recipe below)
Daiya Wedge Jack Cheese (I used regular mozzarella)
You’ll want to begin by making the Slow-Baked Cheezsteak Tofu. I recommend making it the day before, but if you’re in a rush, you can do a quick marinade and cook the tofu on the spot. Just know you get the best flavor by letting that tofu slow-bake, but it’s going to be great either way.
Tear off four slice of aluminum foil and have them ready to place your sandwiches on. Heat the oven to 250 F.
Place the olive oil in a skillet and turn up the heat! To about medium to medium-high, that is. Add the red bell peppers and onions and cook until tender. Add the mushrooms (if you’re using those) and cook a few more minutes.
Place one bun on each strip of aluminum foil. Spread both sides of each bun with the Garlic Avocado Ailio. Now add several prepared Tofu Philly Cheezsteak slices to each hoagie bun and top with sautéed veggies, and 2-3 slices of the vegan cheese. Come on, try a piece of that Philly Cheezsteak Tofu. You know you want to. Mmmm, it’s good!
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 for just a bit before serving. These go great with baked potatoes on the side. Oh heck, it’s a Friday night…why not live a little and have these sandwiches with potato chips or french fries if you want.
My friend Julie suggest that 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.
Slow-Baked Cheezsteak Tofu
2 medium green onions, roughly chopped
1 block extra firm tofu, drained
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)
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 some of the excess liquid. Slice the block in half and from there make thin slices, to resemble steak strips.
Time to 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.
Once the tofu has been good and slow-baked, I like to brown the strips to give them some nice color. Place 1 -2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and heat up to medium-high heat. 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.
You can now use this same skillet to begin Step One of the Vegan Philly Cheezsteak recipe above.
Garlic Avocado Aioli
1 medium avocado
2 tablespoons vegan mayo (I used Earth Balance’s Mindful Mayo)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Slice the avocado and remove the skin and the pit. Be sure to get as much as the avocado meat as possible!
Place the avocado in a small bowl and add the mayo, garlic and salt. Stir until everything is well combined.
Viola! You now have a delicious and appetizing aioli that you can use on any sandwich.