Even though my vegetarian days are over, I love vegetarian reubens (and also Turkey Reubens!). Here we combine tempeh with an easy faux sauerkraut, chipotle laced Russian dressing and of course Swiss cheese on griddled rye bread. The results are satisfying – perfect for Meatless Monday! This would also be an easy dish to serve at a party, just set-up sandwich fixings (turkey and tempeh) and let everyone make their own reuben.
Whatever occasion (or non-occasion) you make these for, I’d prep somethings in advance so it’s just quick sandwich assembly and serve. The Kraut is so simple, and makes a huge batch to keep on hand for sandwiches. The dressing is just whisked together with standard fridge ingredients, and then I added a scoop of chipotle, sriracha would also add a nice kick.
Simmer the tofu while you get the bread ready, then slice and pan fry. I picked up a great loaf of rye bread and the tempeh at Greenstar – I think they have pickling spice too!
Tempeh Ruebens serves 4
8 oz package tempeh
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon pickling spice
1 bay leaf
1 cup Easy Homemade Sauerkraut (see below)
8 slices rye bread
8 slices swiss cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons relish or chopped pickles
pinch of salt
a few drops soy sauce
optional – 1 teaspoon of pureed chipotle in adobo or sriracha hot sauce
Make the tempeh. Place the tempeh, vinegar, water, and spices in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes, flipping occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the pot, let cool, and then thinly slice. Heat a layer of oil in a skillet and pan fry the slices a few minutes per side until golden.
Make the dressing. Combine the ingredients in a small bowl, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Make the sandwiches. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Spread a little butter on one side of each piece of bread. Place the bread butter side down in skillet and cook until golden. Remove from pan. Divide the kraut among 4 slices of the bread on the soft side. Divide the tempeh slices on top, then top with a slice of cheese. Spread the dressing on the remaining piece of bread and top the sandwich.
*To make for vegans, sub vegennaise for the dressing and buttery spread for the bread. Omit cheese or use a cheese substitute.
Quick Homemade Sauerkraut
1 large head cabbage, sliced into shreds
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
kosher salt to taste
Place a large dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then sauté the onions until they’re starting to turn translucent. Add the cabbage, cider vinegar, and water with a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook the cabbage for 30 – 40 minutes until softened. Stir the cabbage every 10 minutes or so, it will cook faster on the bottom, so really mix to combine. Taste and adjust vinegar or salt if necessary. Serve warm or chilled.