Recipe: Gluten-Free Portabello Mushroom Cheesesteaks

Who says being a gluten-free vegetarian is boring?  When you can cook up something as amazing as a cheesesteak sandwich, without even touching any meat…now that’s awesome.  And it is possible.  And thanks to my stock of gluten-free breads in my freezer, I happened to have gluten-free sub buns at my disposal.  And, thanks to my CSA bin, I had all the vegetables already in my home.

Thanks to the wonder that is Pinterest, I stumbled across this recipe and knew, immediately, that I had to make it.  As previously stated, I had every ingredient necessary to make it happen.  But…I had a few days of using things up and a holiday dinner that had to come first.  Thus…this recipe didn’t get made until last night.  But, wow…was I ever happy I went ahead, trusted Pinterest, and made it.

The recipe comes from a vegetarian food blog called Oh My Veggies.  The original recipe is for four sandwiches, but I had only 2 sub buns and it was just my roommate and I eating…so why make the extra?  I just cut it in half.  But this is the amazing recipe for you to try as well.  Trust me, the meaty portabello mushrooms will make you not even miss the lack of meat in this sandwich.

Recipe: Gluten-Free Portabello Mushroom Cheesesteaks

Gluten-Free Portabello Mushroom Cheesesteak Sandwich
Gluten-Free Portabello Mushroom Cheesesteak Sandwich

Servings: 4
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Cook 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 extra-large portabello mushrooms, gills removed, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. red wine
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 1 small green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 slices provolone or mozzarella cheese (I used Veggie Slices Provolone Flavored vegan cheese)
  • 4 sub rolls, sliced lengthwise (don’t completely cut the top from the bottom, though!) (I used Tina’s Sweet Treats Gluten-Free Sub Buns)

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add mushrooms and cook 3-4 minutes, or until softened and browned.  Add wine and increase heat to high.  Cook until liquid has evaporated, about 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to bowl.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Carefully wipe skillet clean.  Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add green pepper and onions; cook until softened, about 5-8 minutes.

Reduce heat to low.  Return mushrooms to skillet and stir to combine.  Top vegetable mixture with cheese slices.  Once cheese has melted, remove from heat.

Divide veggie mixture into sub rolls.  Wrap each cheesesteak tightly with foil and place on a baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and unwrap carefully.

ENJOY!

~*~*~

Loved these!  Absolutely LOVED these from first bite to last.  My roommate thought some sort of sauce on them might be good next time.  I could see what I could come up with.  I loved the way the portabello mushroom cap perfectly mimicked the meat that would normally go inside this sandwich.  It was seasoned perfectly, the vegetables were tender and flavorful, and the cheese just sort of topped it all off.  All of it melted to perfection inside the gluten-free bun that I used.

I would totally make this again in a heartbeat.  Beyond impressed with how delicious and amazing this meal was.  If you love a good, hearty sandwich…I totally recommend making these.  Totally delicious.

Tina’s Sweet Treats bakes up gigantic, flaky gluten-free sub buns

Tina's Sweet Treats Sub Buns
Tina’s Sweet Treats Gluten-Free Sub Buns

Product: Tina’s Sweet Treats Gluten-Free Sub Buns (2 buns per package) – $5.49

I love Ohio for numerous reasons.  One of my best friend’s lives there.  Countless other friends live scattered throughout the state.  And near the Dayton, Ohio area, I stumbled across a great little grocery store called Dorothy Lane Market.  What I found inside made me eager to go back.  And though I have yet to do so, the bounty of gluten-free products I purchased the one time I stopped in lives on, thanks to my freezer.

Well, I was surfing Pinterest the other day (shock!) and I ran across a recipe for Portobello Mushroom Cheesesteak Sandwiches.  They needed sub sandwich rolls.  And…I just happened to have a pair of gluten-free sub sandwich rolls in my freezer thanks to my random stop in at Dorothy Lane Market.  If you have never been to Dorothy Lane Market, by the way, and you happen to be going through Ohio…stop.  Go.  Shop.  They have an incredible selection of gluten-free items…including baked goods from local bakeries…and a knowledgeable staff in the gluten-free aisle.  I was beyond impressed and ended up stocking up on quite a few things I knew I couldn’t get anywhere else.

And…one such item was Sub Buns from Tina’s Sweet Treats, a gluten-free bakery in Franklin, Ohio.  Dorothy Lane Market provides customers with a variety of different items from local businesses that are dedicated gluten-free.  I was intrigued.  And these really caught my eye.  Normally when I make sub sandwiches I use the Schär Sub Sandwich Rolls that are parbaked and just need a toasting in the oven.  And I love those.  But here was a chance to try something “fresh” and homemade.  Not in a facility…but from a bakery.  I was truly excited about this.

Well, after the initial purchase, all the fresh baked items found a spot in my freezer.  I really had no reason to use them…until a recipe showed up on my Pinterest feed.  Knowing that I had every ingredient (including the sub rolls) in my pantry or fridge (thank you CSA bin), I knew these buns were coming out and this recipe was going to get made.

Tina's Sweet Treats Gluten-Free Sub Bun
Tina’s Sweet Treats Gluten-Free Sub Bun

When I purchased these rolls, I failed to realize just how massive they were.  You are definitely getting your money’s worth, that’s for sure.  These rolls are about 2 Schär sub sandwich rolls put together.  I sliced each ginormous bun in half, loving how the bread would flake away.  Ah, I do love homemade, fresh items.  I noticed there was some spring in the texture, which meant it wouldn’t be dry.  I approved.  So, after cutting both of the dino-sized buns in half, I finished sauteing up my mushrooms, onions, and green peppers, topped them off with vegan provolone cheese, and allowed it to melt.  Then, onto the sub sandwich buns the filling went.  I wrapped each sandwich in tin foil and placed them on a baking sheet in a warm oven for about 15 minutes.

At the end of the warming period, I removed the sub sandwiches, now toasted all the way through, and unwrapped them.  Plating was easy.  The bread didn’t fall apart.  Nor did it get mushy from any residual juices from the sliced portobello mushroom cap that I sauteed.  I was impressed!  Really.  But the real test was coming up.  I needed to find out how these tasted.  My roommate was already digging into hers when I settled in, and I asked what she thought.  She said they were definitely heavier than the Schär Sub Sandwich Rolls, but that it was good.

So, it was my turn now.  One bite.  And I was immediately reminded of the sort of flaky gluten-free hamburger bun I get at Cheeseburger in Paradise.  That’s exactly what the flavor and texture reminded me of.  You could tell it was made in a bakery though.  The flavors that each bite imparted was enough to prove that.  According to Tina’s Sweet Treats’ Web site, the ingredients that go into these sub buns are rice flour, tapioca flour, egg whites, butter, yeast, xanthan gum, apple cider vinegar, and salt.  That’s it.  And what emerges, whether toasted in the oven or heated in the microwave is a soft, delicious bun that is flaky and soft and perfect to stuff full of whatever ingredients you crave.

I was very impressed by Tina’s Sweet Treats.  My roommate actually prefers the Schär rolls over the bakery’s version of a sub roll.  But I could go for either.  These buns were very filling, but very good and worked well with the sandwich I created.  I would totally try other products from Tina’s Sweet Treats, and hope to next time I stop into a Dorothy Lane Market in Ohio.  I was quite happy with the taste, texture, and the way the subs held up to the fillings, and the baking in the oven.

Do your sub sandwiches with something fresh and something tasty.  Check out Tina’s Sweet Treats.  And if you can’t get to Ohio…they do ship.

Portobello Mushroom Cheesesteak Sandwich made using Tina's Sweet Treats Gluten-Free Sub Buns
Portobello Mushroom Cheesesteak Sandwich made using Tina’s Sweet Treats Gluten-Free Sub Buns

Gillian’s Foods brings outstanding gluten-free French rolls to the table

Gillian's Foods Gluten-Free French Rolls
Gillian’s Foods Gluten-Free French Rolls

Product: Gillian’s Foods Gluten-Free French Rolls – $3.49+

First of all, let me give a shout-out and a HUGE thank you to my friend, Kathy Lubbers, because she is the person responsible for introducing the awesomeness of Gillian’s Foods to me.  No joke.  When I was in Hershey, Pennsylvania, we got together for dinner and she told me she had some small gifts for me.  One of said gifts was a sack of Gillian’s French Rolls.  I had heard of Gillian’s, but have never seen them in the wild before.  As in…no one in this area actually carries them.

But…in Pennsylvania, it’s a different story.  She picked up some for me from the Annville Natural Market and told me to try them out.  I wouldn’t hurt her feelings if I didn’t like them.

So, these little rolls made their way back home with me.  And, as I wasn’t sure when I would get to them…they got tucked away in my freezer.  And then…along came the holidays.  And with holiday insanity comes the burden of being the food allergic girl coming to dinner.  I navigated the Thanksgiving meal quite well by providing two of the main components…a fruit and a vegetable.  The starch component was compliments of Amanda, the hostess, who pulled out some potato for me before adding milk and butter.

And so, the holiday season of rushing and insanity began.  And with it…and the shorter days…I often find myself behind schedule.  Be it for breakfast, for dinner, or for just a simple errand.  This time of year…nothing is simple.

But…rolls.  Those can be simple.

This morning, after a very hectic Sunday and a five mile run in the dark and cold, I came home to change and get ready for work.  One thing was on my mind – food, of course.  I was hungry.  And since my roommate had been ill the day before, I wasn’t too sure what her stomach could handle.  In the freezer, I spotted the bag of Gillian’s Foods French Rolls.

Gillian's Gluten-Free French Roll
Gillian’s Gluten-Free French Roll

BINGO!  Simple and not too much preparation needed.  I pulled out two rolls (the serving size is half a roll…but this was breakfast!) and put them in a plastic bag to thaw.  They did that up until the moment my roommate’s alarm clock went off.  The directions on the bag say to microwave to warm up.  Now…that’s what I’m doing tomorrow, because these rolls are breakfast again tomorrow.  But…I decided I wanted to treat them like an English muffin.  So, I cut each one in half and put it on a baking sheet.  Into the oven it went to toast while I got out the peanut butter and a banana.

It took about 10 minutes to get a nice golden color on these.  I removed them from the oven, gave each one a little schmear of peanut butter and then topped each one off with slices of banana.  A good, healthy, protein and potassium packed breakfast, if you ask me.  But…of course I had to leave some of mine plain.  Because I needed to see what these rolls tasted like without being gussied up with condiments and delicious fruit.

Well, let me tell you…I am in love with Gillian’s Foods French Rolls.  Honestly.  And I can’t wait to see what they taste like when microwaved, like the bag says to do.  But, toasting them in the oven as a nice touch, I think.  It gave the outside a little bit of a crunch, while the inside remained soft and full of yumminess.  Yes…these rolls are definitely full of yumminess.  Trust me.

The French Rolls are Gillian’s Foods most popular rolls that they make.  Made from a combination of white rice flour, tapioca flour, water, soy flour, guar gum, egg whites, yeast, salt and sugar, these don’t get much more straight forward.  Notice how you can recognize every ingredient.  No strange chemicals or preservatives are added, which is why these are best stored in the freezer.  Even better, unlike a lot of gluten-free bread out there, these do not crumble in your hands or fall apart.  They are quite substantial, great texture, not too heavy.  They are…in other words…perfection in roll form.  And I’ve been searching for the perfect roll.  I even tried to make some and it was an epic fail.  Gillian’s makes it easy…and super delicious.

Even my roommate devoured these up.  And after having been sick to her stomach, these didn’t bother her at all.  She was the first to get a bite of one this morning and she absolutely loved the taste and texture as well.  And she can have, and does have, regular bread quite often.  We were both very highly impressed.

These would be great to build a sandwich with…use as hamburger buns…or even just warm up and serve on the side with a delicious gluten-free meal.  Honestly, they are quite delicious on their own.  Which is more than I can say for some gluten-free breads out there.

Now…to seek out a local store that might carry these and these products.  Because if the rest of the products are as good as these rolls…well, I’m eager to try all I can.

Thank you Kathy, thank you, Annville Natural Market, and thank you Gillian’s…for giving this gluten-free girl a French Roll to rave about.

Gillian's Gluten-Free French Roll (halved and toasted)
Gillian’s Gluten-Free French Roll (halved and toasted)

Local Pennsylvania chain, Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches offers smorgasbord of gluten-free options

Isaac's Famous Grilled Sandwiches, Ephrata, Pennsylvania
Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches, Ephrata, Pennsylvania

Restaurant: Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches, Ephrata, Pennsylvania

I have to once again break my vow to not blog about chains.  And why?  Because I recently visited a chain restaurant that is only found in Pennsylvania.  Much like California’s own In-N-Out Burger, this little sandwich shop is only available regionally.  Therefore, I will not be able to find anything like it where I live in Indiana.

Welcome to Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches.  This chain began on August 25, 1983, when two friends attending college, Phil Wenger and Isaac Williams, met.  After graduating and going in two separate directions (Phil taking a job in sales for a flower wholesaler and Isaac working as a chef in a local restaurant), the two friends began to brainstorm the idea of a deli/restaurant.  Isaac provided the knowledge of cooking and his flair for decorating, and created an eclectic interior and a working menu.  Phil provided the experience of running a business and his desire to create something that would give back to the community.  And with that…Isaac’s Restaurant and Deli was born in the heart of Pennsylvania.  Now with 20 restaurants in 6 counties of Pennsylvania, this local chain is providing a delicious menu with a variety of choices in soups, salads, and sandwiches.

So, how did this out-of-towner stumble upon this little chain?  The Internet, of course.  My roommate was researching possible places to eat after I ran in the Hershey Half Marathon while we were out and about in other areas of Pennsylvania.  She came across Isaac’s on Find Me Gluten Free, and it had really great ratings.  It also had gluten-free flatbread!  Now there was something new and worth checking out, yes?

So, after a very successful run that morning in Hershey, Pennsylvania, my roommate, my friend Jenn, and myself headed out of town toward Ephrata, Pennsylvania.  We wanted to stop by the grave of Major Richard D. Winters, best known from Band of Brothers.  After the drive out there and the visit to the cemetery, we found that we were ready for lunch.  There was actually an Isaac’s in Ephrata.  Even better…it wasn’t that far away either.  BONUS!

We made our way to the Cloister Shopping Center and pulled in to park.  The actual center itself looked a bit sketchy.  In fact, Isaac’s was located next to an open (WOW!) Blockbuster Video.  I wasn’t feeling too confident about the situation.  But, at this point, we were committed.  We stepped up to the door, which thankfully had a large-scale version of their menu up.  I double-checked the gluten-free option and it was listed…so we stepped inside.  As we came in near the Blockbuster Video, we had to walk down a very long hallway in order to get to the restaurant itself.  We stepped inside and went to the hostess station in order to be seated.

A table was just clearing up where the three of us could sit, so we were told it would only be a minute.  Looks had to be deceiving, because Isaac’s was quite busy.  Every table was taken.  I glanced around in awe, as it didn’t look like much from the outside.  Inside, it was very much like the old diners you are used to seeing in movies.  There are crazy decorations and colors throughout the interior.  And right next to the hostess stand…the dessert case.  The three of us too a moment to ogle the pies and cakes inside…but then were told the table was clean and ready for us to be seated.

We followed the hostess to the booth and got situated.  She said our waitress would be right with us and left us to peruse the menu.  There were a lot of options to choose from.  So much sounded really good.  I was having a hard time deciding and I knew both Jenn and Cathy were also eying a few options as well.  Our waitress came to our table to get our drink order, and we all stuck with water.  She returned and gave us a little more time with the menu.  When we were all set…a different waitress came over.  Our waitress just got assigned a large party and they wanted to get our order in first.  We appreciated that…and so we began to put in our order.

Jenn decided to create her own sandwich.  She put salami and provolone on a pretzel roll ($6.99).  It came with a side of ranch dressing.  And she kept the chips as her side item.  Cathy opted to do the half soup-half sandwich combo.  She went with a half Mockingbird Sandwich (thinly sliced grilled ham and provolone cheese, topped with tomatoes and onions with mayo on hearty multigrain bread) with a cup of Isaac’s Famous Pepperjack and Tomato Soup.  She had that with a side of the Utz Potato Chips ($7.39).  As for me, I alerted them that I am a Celiac and was interested in trying the Gluten-Free Larkspur, which consisted of muenster and cheddar cheeses, fresh tomatoes, spinach and sprouts all wrapped up in a gluten-free flatbread and served with ranch dressing, which I was assured was also gluten-free.  I ordered the dressing on the side and opted for the baby carrots as my side ($8.04).

I will point out that there is an up-charge for the gluten-free option on the menu.  The gluten-free flatbread carries an additional $0.75 charge.  Not a problem.  After all, most restaurants charge a lot more.

Our orders went in and we had a good amount of time to sit around and chat.  I mostly talked about how interested I was in this gluten-free flatbread.  After our wait, our meals were brought out to us.

Let me tell you, the sandwich I got was nothing like what I expected.  But…it looked fantastic.  The gluten-free flatbread was grilled to a beautiful golden color.  Inside it was stuffed with spinach, sprouts, and tomatoes.  The cheeses were there…but not in overabundance.  I appreciated that.  And, as I asked, the ranch dressing came in a cup on the side.  I was dying to try this out.  Pausing only long enough to take a picture for my blog, I picked up the knife and sliced into the sandwich.  I took that little wedge, dipped it in the ranch dressing and took a bite.

I died and went to sandwich heaven.  The gluten-free flatbread was definitely the star of the show.  In fact, what it reminded me of the fried bread that Taco Bell Chalupas were made in.  They had a nice crisp outside but were great and soft when you chewed them.  I found it to be the perfect compliment to my vegetables inside.  And I honestly appreciated that the cheese wasn’t filling the sandwich.  It complimented it instead.  I gave a piece of the bread to both Cathy and Jenn and even they liked it.  I savored every bite, not wanting the sandwich experience to come to an end.  But with each bite…my sandwich grew smaller and smaller.

Here’s what I have to say…while it looked like an absolute dive on the outside, inside, Isaac’s is a quirky, fun little soup/sandwich/salad deli establishment.  I had a great dining experience there.  The waitress wrote in big letters on the order that mine was gluten-free.  And the receipt also made mention that it was gluten-free and yes…it was an allergy.  These are the little things that someone like me appreciates while eating out.  It just puts your mind a little more at ease.

I never knew how much I missed flatbread until I could have it again.  And this was a great place to start as far as finding one that had lots of flavor, no strange texture, and was just awesome with every bite.  I didn’t even need the dressing…the bread provided a lot of the necessary flavor for a sandwich filled with fresh vegetables.  This was love in flatbread sandwich form.  And I was one happy gluten-free customer.

If I find myself back up in southeastern Pennsylvania again, I will actively seek out Isaac’s as a safe place for me to eat.  Looks can be deceiving as I have come to find out quite often.  And in this case…this little dive of a place in a strip mall provided me one of my favorite gluten-free sandwiches to date.  The care of the staff at the restaurant and the variety of gluten-free options on the menu was awesome.  Totally worth a repeat visit sometime!

Isaac's Gluten-Free Larkspur Sandwich
Isaac’s Gluten-Free Larkspur Sandwich