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baby bella brooklyn “cheesesteak” panini

by Jackie Newgent  |  February 24, 2013  |  3 Comments

baby bella brooklyn cheesesteak panini

(Click on photo for full-size image!)

Makes 4 servings: 1 sandwich each

Sorry, Philadelphia. I changed your sandwich too much to call this a true Philly cheesesteak. Since I developed and tested the recipe in Brooklyn, my borough is getting the credit for this made-over version. The goal here was simply to create a vegetarian version of cheesesteak. Baby bella mushrooms are the savory star. But I couldn’t resist adding a few more of my own tasty touches to make this sandwich a standout. In fact, it’s now a panini that’s served with mushroom broth … au jus. It’s succulent!

Calories Saved: 580

3 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 large garlic cloves, minced
8 large slices whole grain sourdough bread
5 ounces sliced organic provolone cheese
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 jumbo or 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms (8 cups)
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
3/4 teaspoon naturally-brewed soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

  1. Stir together the mayonnaise and garlic in a small bowl. Thinly spread one side of each bread slice with the mayonnaise mixture. Arrange the cheese on top of each slice. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, rosemary, and soy sauce, and sauté until the onion and mushrooms are fully softened, about 12 to 15 minutes. Add the salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning. Drain the mushroom mixture well through a large mesh strainer; reserve the liquid (about 1/2 cup) to serve alongside the sandwiches.
  3. Preheat a panini grill to medium-high heat. Working in batches, transfer the mushroom mixture to four of the bread slices (about 1 cup mushroom mixture each), firmly place the remaining bread slices on top of each, cheese side down, forming 4 sandwiches. Lightly spritz the sandwiches with olive oil cooking spray. Cook in the panini grill until well toasted, about 5 minutes.
  4. Cut each sandwich in half using a bread knife, if desired, and serve au jus on the side.

Per serving: 490 calories, 25g total fat, 8g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 30mg cholesterol, 880mg sodium, 45g total carbohydrate, 8g dietary fiber, 11g sugars, 24g protein

(Disclosure: I am a paid spokesperson for the Mushroom Council. However, this recipe was not developed on their behalf; I was not paid to develop it for my blog. I developed this recipe because I love mushrooms … that’s it!)


The “Before” Recipe

philly cheesesteak sandwich

adapted from

Makes 4 servings

1 cup mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound beef rib eye, sirloin tip, or eye of round steak, cut into thin strips
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch strips
1 jumbo or 2 medium yellow onions, sliced into rings
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
4 (3-ounce) hoagie rolls, split lengthwise and toasted
8 ounces sliced provolone cheese or Cheese Whiz
1 teaspoon dried oregano

  1. Combine the mayonnaise and garlic in a small bowl. Cover and chill in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat the oven to 500°F.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the beef and sauté until lightly browned. Add the green bell pepper, onion, salt, and pepper and sauté until the vegetables are tender. Adjust seasoning. Remove from the heat.
  4. Spread each bun generously with garlic mayonnaise. Divide the beef mixture among the buns. Immediately top with the cheese and sprinkle with oregano. Place the sandwiches on a baking pan.
  5. Heat the sandwiches in a preheated oven until the cheese is melted or slightly browned.

Per serving: 1070 calories, 74g total fat, 20g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 135mg cholesterol, 1860mg sodium, 52g total carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 4g sugars, 48g protein

Tasteover Tips

  • When replacing meat with a veggie, include mushrooms when it’s possible—they provide umami, which is a “meaty” taste … naturally
  • Keep the use of rich ingredients, like real cheese and may, but use a just-right amount and keep the flavor spotlight on the star sandwich ingredient(s)
  • Sprinkle in naturally-brewed soy sauce when you want extra savoriness—it actually allows you to keep added salt to a minimum
  • Focus on fresh high-quality ingredients, such as freshly-baked organic bread, and go for fresh herbs when available, such as fresh rosemary

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