Tempeh Reuben: A hearty vegan sandwich to satisfy all.
Okay, so I never ate, nor had any desire to eat a Reuben. No meat for me.
However, I was in a long-term relationship with Hank and he loved going to delis. Actually, I never remember him eating one, but lots of folks were having them made for takeout or eat in. When I was seeking more options for tempeh, variations started showing in my vegan newsletters and magazines.
Tempeh is a fermented version of edamame and uses the whole bean so it is minimally processed.
So the experimenting started, with lots of failed attempts, and lots of successes. This is one where you can change up the ingredients each time and it never gets culinarily dull.
It tickles the taste buds, too!
Umami, salty, bitter, sweet, astringent are easy fits and, depending on all the ingredients, it is not a challenge to add in sour and pungent. I wrote another article about the different tastes if you would like to explore a bit more.
Ingredients and supplies:
Tempeh: I use store-bought, organic; I usually use 1.5 servings per person.
Marinade: your choice of Bragg’s Liquid aminos, tamari, coconut liquid aminos, soy sauce.
Cheese: any vegan cheese, or make your own.
Veggies and or add-ons: sweet pickles, sauerkraut, coleslaw, or kimchi.
Greens: any greens and microgreens, if you like them. I do—and grow my own.
Condiments: your choice; I go for organic mustard—typically, I use Dijon for this delight.
Bread: your choice again; I mention some favorites below.
Sides: imagination time! If I build a huge sandwich, I skip any sides.
Misc.: sauté pan, lid, glass bowl for the marinade, cutting board, chef’s knife, utensils, spatula, serving plates. Also, imagination, a smile, a song in your head (optional), a few dance moves (optional), an inventive spirit, and lots of love.
1. Clean the countertops after removing the cats. Clean the counter even if you did not need to remove the cats. Mise en place: all of the above.
2. Cut the tempeh to the desired size; I consider the bread, and size it to somewhat match. Think about the thickness you want. I have used both the thickness of the tempeh which is about ½ inch or maybe 12.5 millimeters. And, sometimes I slice it in half, top to bottom, to have a much thinner slice. Depends on my mood and how many other goodies I am using.
3. Now, the marinade will depend—if you want a deeply rich, soaked-in taste, place the tempeh overnight in the fridge, in a covered glass bowl with marinade. Or, you can do this after breakfast and let it soak until lunch. Lastly, consider pouring the marinade into the hot pan with the tempeh. This will work well if you want a lighter taste of the marinade and will lessen sodium amount since it did not get into the tempeh and wind its way into all those beans.
4. Preheat the pan a minute or two, then add the tempeh. I skip oil so I dump any liquid remaining in the bowl in with the tempeh. No oil means tougher cleanup of the pan, but it is doable. More later on this.
5. Depending on the thickness of the tempeh and the heat from your stovetop, it will only take 2-4 minutes per side. So, having everything else ready to slap onto the bread and building your sandwich is critical. Well, not earth-shattering critical, but if you want it hot, be prepared.
6. I use Finnish sourdough rye bread if I have it. I ordered some from a Finnish baker in Pennsylvania who has a Finnish bakery called Arctic Swan. Otherwise, my go-to is either ½ Ezekiel, sprouted, whole-grain English muffin, lightly toasted. Any rye, with or without seeds, works for me if it’s vegan.
Also, I prefer open-faced, especially since gluten-free is better for me, so, if I am cheating, I want less. And really, I want to taste all the goodness and variety of flavors and textures.
7. Slather your condiment of choice on the bread. I like Dijon mustard, but yellow will do. I recently bought dry ground mustard and will make my own, but the grocery store had a BOGO on their organic brand and I ended up with four bottles. Well, four because I got two, then a couple of days later forgot, and got two more. This is their fault, they play good music and it makes you linger longer, and your brain cells add more to the cart.
8. If you are using vegan cheese and want it melted, place the bread with mustard and topped with cheese, in the toaster oven. Keep in mind, the tempeh is cooking, so unless you want burnt tempeh and a now disposable pan, do this step first.
9. Adding greens is optional. I am growing my own—indoor in a water-garden, so I need and want to use them. And, I grow microgreens from HAMAMA, and their seed quilts are on coconut fiber, no soil.
10. Now I add some coleslaw or sauerkraut, or recently, kimchi and then sweet pickle chips. I make my own coleslaw, but I buy raw sauerkraut that comes in a bag with a choice of added ingredients; I like the one with caraway seeds. I also buy raw, glass-jar kimchi in the fridge section of the store.
11. Gently layer that cooked tempeh on top. This is why I started using thinner slices of tempeh; I make two open-faced sandwiches that are easier to fit into one’s mouth without overworking one’s masseter muscle or creating pain in your temporal-mandibular joint, a.k.a. your TMJ.
12. Feel free to add any vegan sides.
13. Put all the ingredients not used away and plate with love. Find a good spot to park your bum, give gratitude, and sink your teeth into the first bite. Earthy, hearty, salty, sweet, sour, bitter, astringent, pungent, and umami delight.
No critters were harmed in the preparation of this meal. Another save for this tiny blue marble we inhabit.
For a whole bunch of delicious recipes, scroll through my author page.