Philly cheese steaks—hold the steak!

Published on March 17 2010 - 3:20 PM
Philly cheese steaks—hold the steak!

There are many kinds of vegetarians out there, but my version falls closer to the “selectatarian” category. I’m a used-to-be-meat-free-but-got-sidetracked-by-the-bacon vegetarian. I do eat meat once in awhile, but I like to limit it to special occasions.

Whether or not you’re a full-on vegetarian, there are plenty of reasons to eat less meat—even once or twice a week. It’s better for your health, not to mention the planet. Plus, you can save a lot of money! Just think of all the delicious, healthy meals you could make with a can of beans. With all those benefits, it’s no wonder the Meatless Monday movement ( is growing in popularity across the country. (Want to go meatless on Mondays? Here are 10 vegetarian recipes you must try.)

For the most part, I love to let my veggie food be what it is: veggies. But sometimes a little irony is fun too. Recently, I was invited to a dinner where Philly Cheese Steaks were the main course. I offered to bring these Portobello "Philly Cheese Steak" Sandwiches as a vegetarian version. The meaty mushroom and melty cheese combo was a big hit! Even better than the real deal, in my opinion.

Try these other classic meat dishes with a vegetarian twist and challenge yourself to go meat-free at least once a week. I dare you!

Portobello "Philly Cheese Steak" Sandwich
Cheese steaks are a Philadelphia tradition: thin slices from a rich and very fatty slab of beef, fried up and topped with a heavy cheese sauce. We've cut down on the fat considerably—but not on the taste—by swapping portobello mushrooms in place of the meat.

Tofu Parmigiana
Instead of having a greasy, battered coating, the tofu “steaks” in this revamped Parmigiana are breaded and lightly pan-fried in just a small amount of oil then topped with part-skim mozzarella, fresh basil and your favorite marinara sauce. This Italian classic will please even those who are tofu-phobic.

Barbecue Portobello Quesadillas
This smoky mushroom-filled quesadilla is reminiscent of pulled pork. A touch of chipotle chile pepper adds extra heat. Serve with coleslaw and guacamole.

Moo Shu Vegetables
This vegetarian version of the classic Chinese stir-fry, Moo Shu, uses already-shredded vegetables to cut down on the prep time. Serve with warm whole-wheat tortillas, Asian hot sauce and extra hoisin if desired.

Bean Burgers with Spicy Guacamole
These bean burgers will even please carnivores. The cornmeal coating gives a pleasant crunch and smoked paprika, cumin, cilantro and guacamole add Southwestern flavor.

Penelope is Senior Digital Editor for EatingWell.