In my 23 years of life as a meat-eater, I can specifically remember eating sauerkraut only one time. And I specifically remember absolutely hating the taste of it! During my early college days I picked a Reuben sandwich off of the buffet line at the cafeteria out of pure curiosity. It looked good and it sounded good so I figured, why not? I took a big bite out of the sandwich and let’s just say, it was most definitely NOT what I had expected. In fact, it tasted so bad to me that I actually had to spit it out (sorry for being graphic! ). It is safe to say that since that experience, I have avoided sauerkraut like the plague.
So…you are probably wondering what lead me to give it another shot after having such a horrible first experience with the pickled cabbage. And my answer to you? Since I have become a vegetarian and developed a healthier eating lifestyle, my taste buds have truly changed. I now find myself trying, eating, and craving foods that I was afraid of before or thought that I would never like (um..hello, mushrooms!). Since my eating habits have changed so greatly, I thought that it might be possible for my dislike of sauerkraut to have changed, as well. I have seen vegetarian Reuben sandwiches on several restaurant menus and have been tempted several times to order them, but I could not quite get up the courage to do so. Instead, I decided to “play it safe” and try sauerkraut at home, first. I bought all of the necessary ingredients, compiled my own vegetarian version of the popular Irish sandwich (what better time to give it a try?), and…
…surprised the heck out of myself! I LOVED it!
Tempeh Reuben Sandwich
Servings: Makes 1 sandwich
For the marinade:
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 TB low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 TB water
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp yellow mustard
For the sauce:
2 TB vegan mayo (I used Vegenaise brand)
1/2 tsp ketchup
1/2 tsp sriracha sauce
1/4 tsp yellow mustard
EVOO cooking spray
1/3 block tempeh, cut into 4 strips
2 slices 100% whole wheat bread
coconut oil (can use margarine or butter, if desired)
2 to 3 TB sauerkraut
1 slice part-skim sharp cheddar cheese (use Daiya cheese to make vegan)
1. Combine all marinade ingredients into a small mixing bowl and stir until well-combined. Add tempeh slices and marinade in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
2. Spray a small skillet with EVOO cooking spray. Add the marinated tempeh and a little bit of the marinade to the pan and cook over medium heat until heated through, about 3-5 minutes on each side.
3. While the tempeh is cooking, combine the ingredients for the sauce. Stir well.
4. Spray a separate skillet or griddle with EVOO cooking spray. Heat over medium heat until warm.
5. Spread one side of each slice of bread with coconut oil.
6. Spread sauce onto the non-coconut oil side of one of the pieces of bread. Place this piece of bread, coconut oil side down, into the skillet. Place the tempeh slices on top of the sauce. Top the tempeh with sauerkraut and cheese. Top the sandwich with the second piece of bread, coconut oil side up.
7. Cook for approximately 3-5 minutes, or until the bottom slice of bread is golden brown.
8. Carefully flip the sandwich and cook an additional 3-5 minutes.
9. Serve your Tempeh Reuben Sandwich with your favorite sides. I chose mixed vegetables and a dill pickle spear.
Oh, and do not forget to cut your sandwich in half – diagonally, of course!
I can now honestly say that I really like sauerkraut, which are words that I never thought that I would write or say. Not only am I a newly converted tempeh lover (this sandwich made me fall in love even more!), but I am a sauerkraut eater. Pretty awesome, if I do say so myself!
The meaty taste and texture of the marinated tempeh combined with the savory cheese, sweet and spicy sauce, and the tangy sauerkraut made for a delicious sandwich. I may not have liked the “traditional” Reuben sandwich a few years ago, but I sure love this vegetarian version!
I am consistently finding it to be more and more fun to try all of these “new to me” foods (and even not so new foods). It is like being introduced to a whole new world of delicious food. This just goes to show that what you think you “don’t like” maybe not actually be true. So go try a new food! Or try cooking with food that you may not have liked years ago, but have not tried since. You may be pleasantly surprised like I was!
And there you have it…the perfect recipe for those of you with leftover sauerkraut from this past Sunday’s St. Patty’s Day holiday! Enjoy .