Is That A Cheese Steak On Toast?!
Full disclosure: this sandwich started out as a simple grilled eggplant sandwich and if you are not a vegan cheese fan, you can easily omit it. However, when the flavor profile started coming together, it became something else — this. I felt like cheese added an extra oomph. A good creamy dressing or perhaps even a pesto could add an equally impressive oomph, but that would be your own creation.
I can’t say I’m shocked or surprised; sometimes I wander into my kitchen thinking I’m going to make one thing and end up having “happy accidents” as Bob Ross used to say. This sandwich is one such thing and super simple to make.
All you need is…
1 small eggplant thinly sliced
1 small onion (red) thinly sliced
1/2 small cucumber thinly sliced (optional)
2 slices of vegan cheese
2 slices of your favorite vegan bread or a roll
liquid aminos/ soy sauce/ coconut aminos
You want to start by getting your thinly — just shy of see through — sliced eggplant into a marinade of liquid aminos (or your fave alternative), a drop of liquid smoke, paprika, and garlic powder. Be careful with the quantities of aminos or soy sauce as they can be very salty. Do NOT add any additional salt here.
While your eggplant marinates, you are going to julienne (thinly slice) 1/2 a small red onion and get it into a pan on medium heat. Add a splash of red wine, enough to lightly coat each piece of onion and a teaspoon of sugar. Saute until your onions are caramelized (2–5 minutes). The wine will be reduced down and the onions will be sticky and well coated with the reduction. Set aside.
Get your eggplant grilled or seared off. You can use a grill pan if you have one or a regular non-stick pan on medium to high heat for a minute on each side. Avoid adding too much of the marinade during the cooking process because it can easily become too salty. The taste of hypertension is a bitter one, so let’s not!
Get good bread
Once your eggplant is done, get your cheese melting on your toast or bun. If I were stateside, I would have used a Pretzilla bun to elevate this sandwich to the next level, but we don’t get them locally. If you have the option, do it! If not, your fave vegan bread will do.
I opted for just melted cheese on top but if you want a full Philly cheese steak style experience, you can whip up a quick vegan cheese sauce. Get a plant-based unsweetened — preferably plain yogurt, nutritional yeast, grated vegan cheese, and some dried seasonings — paprika, garlic powder, a little mustard powder. I highly recommend using Daiya’s Farmhouse Cheese line as they melt very well. Get everything in a sauce pan on low heat, stir consistently until all of your ingredients have come together into a cheesy sauce. It might be good to have a plain plant-based milk on hand if you need to thin it out a bit.
When the cheese is either ladled on or begins to melt, put your eggplant slices on, top with caramelized onions, some fresh cucumber and a second slice of vegan cheese. VOILA! Your eggplant cheese steak is complete.
P.s. I added cucumber because I like a little freshness and I didn’t have lettuce. Also, I didn’t want my cucumber to waste because all vegetables matter! You can leave it out if cucumbers don’t matter to you.
Melissa writes on a plethora of topics ranging from politics, race, parenting, to surviving this thing called life. However, she is extremely passionate about food and food stories. If you like her recipes check out Recipe’d , her recent food writing project and follow it on Instagram @reciped_sub .