I am definitely not a vegetarian, but I often find myself eating vegetarian meals without even realizing it. For instance, fajitas are my go-to meal when I have leftover bell peppers, onions, and tortillas lying around in the fridge. Basically anything with grilled bell peppers and onions wins my vote.
Instead of making fajitas, I got a little more creative for Student Health 101‘s February issue, which required me to cook a quick vegetarian dinner with an appropriate balance of nutrients (Keep in mind: just because something is labeled as “vegetarian,” that doesn’t necessarily make it healthy!). As a result, I created a concoction that is essentially fajitas in sandwich form. Yes, I went there. I made a veggie “cheesesteak.”
I thought it would be better to appeal to vegetarians and non-vegetarians, like myself, by taking a meat lover’s classic (the Philly cheesesteak, in case you couldn’t tell) and giving it a vegetarian makeover. This was the first time I used Portobello mushrooms to replace steak, and I have to say, they are a tasty substitute! They still have the juiciness of meat but with added fiber, iron, and potassium. I also substituted mozzarella for Swiss cheese since it is lower in fat and calories and still melts fairly well (just look at the ooey gooey-ness in the photo!).
And a cheesesteak isn’t complete without some fries, right? Although I’ve made these baked zucchini fries before, I can’t emphasize enough how much healthier zucchini are than potatoes. To learn more about the nutritional benefits of this vegetarian dinner, you can watch me prepare the recipes here. As always, you can also view the latest issue of Student Health 101 here.
Do you love meat but have a vegetarian lover? Hey, why not prepare these recipes for a romantic Valentine’s Day lunch or dinner?! It’s a win-win meal for both of you. Trust me.
Baked Zucchini Fries
Makes 1 serving
1 medium zucchini
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs, seasoned with ¼ tablespoon garlic powder and ¼ tablespoon dried oregano
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash, trim, and cut off the ends of the zucchini. Cut into long sticks, even in length (about ¼ inch thickness).
In a large plastic bag, add cheese and seasoned breadcrumbs. Shake well.
Place oil in a pie plate (or a shallow dish). Add zucchini to pie plate to coat with oil.
Place half of the bread crumbs on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place zucchini on top of breadcrumbs on baking sheet (dripping off excess oil back into the pie plate before placing on bread crumbs).
Sprinkle remaining panko bread crumbs on top to coat the zucchini. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
Veggie “Cheese Steak” Sandwich
Makes 1 serving
Extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ medium onion, sliced
1 large Portobello mushroom, stem and gills removed, sliced
½ large green bell pepper, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vegetable broth
¼ tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1-2 mozzarella cheese slices
1 whole wheat bun, split and toasted
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook and stir until soft and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add mushroom, bell pepper, oregano, and pepper. Cook and stir until vegetables are soft, about 7 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add the flour to the vegetables. Stir in vegetable broth and soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and scoop onto toasted bun. Lay cheese on top of vegetables and let it stand for 1 minute so that the cheese melts. Fold over the bun and enjoy!