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There is something wonderfully soul-satisfying about a dish that combines both crunchy and soft, and has sweet, sour, and salty elements. Today we made reuben sandwiches for lunch, and they hit all those buttons. We didn’t make traditional reubens, however, we made turkey reubens and vegan tempeh reubens on marble rye. Yum. (stock photos for both sandwiches – mine looked SO much better!)

A turkey reuben is like a traditional reuben, but with a different meat – turkey breast, swiss, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing on grilled buttered bread, served with a pickle. As the bread is being grilled, a layer of cheese is put down to melt on both slices of bread. Turkey is heated, Sauerkraut is rinsed, drained and heated, and the whole thing is assembled. The dressing is passed separately to be put on as the eater wants, or to be dipped into.

A vegan tempeh reuben is similar – turkey breast is replaced by a marinated, baked tempeh, and the swiss is replaced with Daiya cheese – mozzarella style. The bread is grilled with Earth Balance spread and served without dressing (although it’s very easy to find recipes for vegan Thousand Island dressing online).

Here’s the recipe for the tempeh. I used a 3-grain organic tempeh made by LightLife. This recipe is for the full 8-oz. package. I only made half, though. 8 oz. makes 4 sandwiches.

Tempeh for Reubens

  • 8 oz. package tempeh, sliced into 1/4″ slices
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. caraway seed
  • 2 tsp. grainy mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange tempeh slices in a single layer in a glass baking dish.
  2. Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over tempeh, lifting tempeh and flipping to make sure all surfaces are coated with marinade.
  3. Bake for 40 minutes. Tempeh will become dark in color. Lift out of any remaining liquid and use on reuben sandwich in a single layer (or double layer if you like more).
Serve these sandwiches with tiny pickles and chips (we like Herr’s sea salt and cracked black pepper chips).
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