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Tempeh Ruebens.

October 6, 2011 by Katie

Hey guys, Carolina here wishing you a great start to the day! While Katie is off on the trip of a lifetime we’re lucky enough to have friends &  bloggers we admire post for us. Today’s post comes from Ashley at Sprout.

Ashley is a newlywed, professor, vegetarian chef, caterer & runner; we actually ran our first half marathon together. She was a great encouragement during my training & even more of an encouragement as I went full vegetarian. Her recipes can be found on Sprout, The Burg & Meatless Monday, needless to say her cooking’s out of this world. Check out her blog & check out this incredible recipe.

As a vegetarian, there are certain things I miss. I wouldn’t say I actually miss meat itself, but there are certain delicious foods that just so happen to have meat. For instance, I miss BLTSs, but I think it is much more about a sweet, summer tomato with crispy iceberg lettuce, mayonnaise, and the saltiness of bacon on white bread. I miss turkey sandwiches too. Clearly, I love sandwiches. But, over the years, I have come to realize that I can make veggie versions of these sandwiches and be every bit as satisfied as if they were the real thing.

One of the best sandwiches ever created is the reuben sandwich. If you have ever had one, you know that this is a meaty, meat fest on two slices of bread. Piles and piles of corned beef are topped with saurkraut, swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing. I am all about texture and flavor combination, and the justaposition of the salty meat with the crunch saurkraut and the sweet creamy dressing just does it for me. My mouth is now watering….

As a vegetarian, I am simply unwilling to go without this delicious creation. I have had a number of vegan reubens at various restuarants – some orgasmic, some just ok. I decided that today was the day to make it happen, so I began by looking up the recipe for corned beef. Corned beef is first brined in saltwater for days, and then cooked with a mixture of spices. I know that seitan is probably the closest I will come to corned beef, but I had tempeh on hand, and I wasn’t in the mood for 3 days of seitan recipe testing. Maybe later…

So, I decided instead to try the tempeh out. I usually boil my tempeh for 10 minutes before marinating it to get rid of the bitter taste it sometimes has. for this recipe, I added salt to the boiling water to emulate the brining process of the corned beef. Then, I marinated the tempeh slices in the “corned beef” spices.

Most recipes I looked at called for completely different spices, most of which were whole. #1 – I am not about to go buy whole cloves, allspice, and 4 more spices. That stuff is expensive and I simply don’t have room in my pantry. What I settled on was what I already had, and it turned out great.

Instead of jarred saurkraut, I went with a quick homemade red cabbage “pickled” slaw. This gives it more color and a better crunch. Plus, there is less chance of it falling apart all over your plate, which a reuben tends to do. I finished it off with a simple thousand island dressing. The whole processes takes about 3 hours (most of that marination time), but it is totally worth it.

One more thing – when I made this sandwich, I was in a vegan mood. I spent all last week cooking and testing tomato and cheese pies, so this week I am vegan all the way.

If you want to use regular mayo and throw a slice of swiss cheese on this, go for it.


Tempeh Reubens
Serves 2-3

Spice Mixture Ingredients
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 bay leaves, crumbled
1 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon sea salt

Slaw Ingredients
2 cups red cabbage, finely shredded
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt

Dressing Ingredients
¼ cup vegan mayo
1 tablespoon ketchup, minced
2 tablespoons sweet pickles, minced
1 tablespoon capers, minced
1 tablespoon red onion, minced
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
sea salt & pepper, to taste

Sandwich Ingredients
1 package tempeh
2 teaspoons canola oil
¼ cup salt
1 loaf pumpernickel rye bread
Earth Balance butter

1. Combine slaw ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

2. In a small jar, combine all ingredients for spice mixture. In a quart freezer bag, combine 1 teaspoon of spice mixture, 1 teaspoon of canola oil, and ½ cup water.

3. In soup pot, bring 8 cups water and ¼ cup salt to boil. Meanwhile, slice tempeh into 1/2 inch pieces. Boil tempeh for 10 minutes, then remove carefully and immediately place in bag with marinade. Let marinate for at least 2 hours.

4. Meanwhile, combine dressing ingredients and refrigerate

5. After everything has marinated, heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a medium skillet. Saute tempeh under golden brown on both sides.

6. Spread a little butter onto one side of each bread slice, and broil in oven for about 1 minute.

7. Assemble sandwiches, toasted side out, with a couple slices of tempeh, a heaping pile of slaw and about 1 teaspoon dressing. Devour.

What’s your favorite sandwich? Do you have a killer recipe for us?


Katie is a freelance writer, writing mostly about her love for travel and, of course, food. Her husband, Marc, is a web developer and photographer. The newlyweds have visited 15 countries together, and Katie's on track to have visited 30 countries by her 30th birthday.

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