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12th November 2020

Easy vegetarian Philly cheesesteak

All eyes are on the U.S (yet again) with this indulgent sandwich recipe
Easy vegetarian Philly cheesesteak
Photo: Ruby Martin @ The Mancunion

Whilst I’ve never been to Philadelphia, I know there are many great things about it.  It has the highest amount of public art in the US. It has Gritty, perhaps the most delightfully cursed sports mascot to grace the internet.

But most importantly, it managed to give us hope in what has been historically one of the worst years we could have imagined. So, in honor of this great city and all of its voting population, I would like to present my gratitude in the form of this: my take on one of it’s other great cultural contributions, The Philadelphia Cheesesteak.

(Whilst I would also like to extend my thanks to potentially Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and Stacey Abrams herself, none of them had a namesake sandwich. Although Abramwich has a ring to it.)

A Philadelphia Cheesesteak sandwich is believed to have been invented by the Oliveri siblings in the 1930’s and traditionally consists of thinly sliced beef steak with onions and sliced cheese (usually either American or Provolone). Provolone is difficult to find in UK supermarket aisles, but after I found a Tasty vegan based recipe which used a sauce instead, I decided to make my own version using a sauce. 

This cream-based cheese sauce is very simple yet versatile and can also be used afterwards with pasta and crispy onions for a delicious Berlin style mac’n’cheese, or with puff pastry and sweet potato for this dauphinois style pie.

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 1 white onion
  • 1 bell pepper (green is preferred but frankly any will do)
  • A tub of mushrooms
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Soy sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Double cream
  • Cheese (mature cheddar is fine, although if you’re feeling fancy you can use a hard cheese such as pecorino, which depending on where it’s from can be vegetarian e.g. Tesco)
  • Ciabatta Rolls (ideally from the bakery section, but you can use those part bake baguettes if nothing fresh is available)


  1. Preheat your oven. Depending on what kind of bread you’re using, you will only need this to warm up the rolls. However, if you are using the part-bake baguettes, the frying doesn’t take too long so you’ll probably need to put them in earlier then you think. I tend to put them in once the peppers are done, but before the mushrooms go into the pan.
  2. Slice up your onions and peppers. Put your onions in a frying pan with oil and let them brown a little before adding your peppers. Once the peppers have slightly softened, add a couple splashes of balsamic vinegar, ideally just enough to coat everything.
  3. After the onions and peppers are cooked and crisping at the edges, pour them out into a bowl. Re-oil the pan if you need to, and add your garlic. Once the garlic turns a golden colour, add your mushrooms and let them start to brown before adding your soy sauce.
  4. In the meantime, put a saucepan on a low heat and add your cream, season with salt and pepper and add some of your cheese in.  Slowly stir until it has melted, taste and if not cheesy enough, add more cheese. You can essentially repeat this cycle until sufficiently cheesy.
  5. Once the mushrooms and sauce are done, mix all the veg together.  Start the bottom layer with the veg and drizzle the sauce on top.

And that is how you make a pretty good veggie Philly cheesesteak (in my opinion, please don’t hurt me Gritty!)

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