Reubens are on of the fattiest sandwiches out there and if you don’t eat meat, they’re completely out of the question. The traditional reuben sandwich is made with layers of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing--not exactly healthy. But by substituting tempeh for corned beef and making your own dressing, the sandwich gets a whole lot healthier. Plus, it's much more low impact than its meat-heavy counterpart.
This tempeh reuben sandwich recipe is also a great way to put tempeh to work in your kitchen. Tempeh is in many ways more healthy than tofu because it’s fermented, and thus, more easily digestible. Tempeh is loaded with fiber, which makes it even better for digestion. It’s also a good source of protein, vitamin B2, and magnesium. Plus, the sauerkraut is also fermented, so it’s a great way to double up on your fermented food action and line your digestive system with good bacteria.
I like to make an open faced sandwich, either on two English muffins or one larger slice of bread. Although a pita pocket is a good choice as well. This way, the sandwich isn’t oversized. Go light on the cheese, I usually do 1-2 slices per serving. Choose a high quality cheese and bread here because it makes a difference.
Tempeh Reuben Sandwich
2 tbsp. oil (any oil like olive or sunflower will do)
1 package tempeh
1 cup sauerkraut
4 slices organic Swiss cheese
4 slices high quality rye or wheat bread
1 cup Russian style dressing (recipe to follow)
1. Heat up oil to medium heat. Slice the tempeh slab in half, then slice each half in half again. Then, cut each slice down the center to make two thinner slices. Skillet fry each slice in oil until golden brown. Place tempeh aside on a towel to drain.
2. Par toast the bread in the oven--until it’s strong enough to hold the tempeh, sauerkraut, and cheese, but don’t toast it all the way.
3. Assemble each sandwich by slathering each slice of bread with Russian style dressing. Top with two pieces of tempeh, a large scoop of sauerkraut, and a slice of cheese. Melt cheese open faced in the oven if desired (at 500 F for a few quick minutes).
4. Top with another dollop of dressing and serve. Pair with a yummy dill pickle.
From the Organic Authority Files
Russian Style Dressing
Makes 1 cup
1/2 cup organic ketchup
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar
Freshly cracked pepper to taste
1. Combine all the ingredients with a whisk. If you like the dressing creamier, then you can adjust the measurements to have more vegan mayonnaise. The dressing keeps for about four days when it's wrapped up tightly in the refrigerator.
(My two favorite brands of vegan mayonnaise are Vegenaise and Just Mayo (which is actually egg and dairy free, but the label doesn’t say it’s vegan. Both are located in the refrigerator section at most health foods stores.)
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Image: Gloria Cabada-Leman