Eggplant is the usual go-to when it comes to a vegetarian-friendly parm sandwich, but eggplant really needs to be panfried in oil to get the texture and browned-ness that makes it taste so crisp and good when layered with the marinara and melted cheese. Mushrooms, however, can get a nice roast in the oven without frying and retain their juicy, meaty texture. To achieve the missing crunch component from the fried bread crumb coating, I toss panko bread crumbs with garlic oil, sprinkle them over the molten cheese, and crisp them under the broiler.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane-style rasp
- ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon plus a pinch of kosher salt
- ½ cup grated low-moisture mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup grated provolone cheese
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 4 portobello mushrooms, stemmed and sliced ¼ inch
- ½ cup favorite store-bought or homemade marinara
- 4 sub rolls
- 1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400°F.
- 2. Combine the olive oil and garlic in a ramekin and warm in the oven to infuse the oil, 5 minutes. (Alternatively, combine them in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at high power until the garlic is fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds.) Pour 2 tablespoons garlic oil into a small bowl and add the panko bread crumbs and a pinch of salt. Rub this together with your fingers to combine and set aside (reserve the remaining garlic oil). In a separate small bowl combine the mozzarella, provolone, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses.
- 3. Place the mushrooms in a medium-size bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons garlic oil and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Transfer the mushrooms to a rimmed sheet pan and roast until tender, 10 to 12 minutes (there’s no need to flip them). Transfer the mushrooms to a plate and set aside. Line the sheet pan with aluminum foil.
- 4. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat the broiler to high. Open the rolls and brush the interior of each half with some of the remaining garlic oil. Place the rolls, face up, on the prepared sheet pan and broil until the bread is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes (watch the bread closely as broiler intensities vary). Remove the bread from the oven (keep the broiler on), divide the tops of the rolls among 4 plates, and leave the bottoms on the sheet pan.
- 5. Arrange the mushrooms over the bottom halves of the rolls and top each with 2 tablespoons marinara, spreading it out a bit. Divide the cheese over each mound of vegetables and return the sheet pan to the broiler. Broil until the cheese is melted, 2 to 3 minutes (watch the cheese closely so it does not burn). Sprinkle the reserved panko bread crumbs evenly over the cheese and return to the broiler until the crumbs are golden and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer each portion to a plate and top with the reserved roll top. Serve hot.