Vegan Reuben

My poor husband!  He works long, long days—he works hard!—and he has been living in a vegan household for almost a year.  I know he misses meat sometimes, although he enthusiastically eats whatever I put on the table each night for dinner, often toting leftovers for lunch the next day.

I decided to try and make a vegan version of one of his favorite sandwiches.  I figured I would go all out and make a vegan Reuben.  A traditional Reuben is corned beef or pastrami, Thousand Island or Russian dressing, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese all layered and melted together on rye bread, either on a grill or toasted.  I was pretty sure I could pull it off with seitan, homemade dressing, and leave out the cheese.

Seitan, made from vital wheat gluten, is also called monk’s meat or wheat meat.  Buddhist monks figured out how to make it when they were searching for something more substantial and chewier than tofu.  It’s one of the highest sources of protein for vegans, and quite versatile.  You can buy it already made, or make it yourself (much less expensive and also easy).  I use the recipe in Veganomicon and it comes out perfect every time.  I often double the recipe, as it freezes well and is then ready on short notice.

I served up the Reuben sandwich to my husband.  He said it was delicious, but didn’t really taste like the real thing.  The next day, he went out to lunch with one of his work-mates and ordered the Reuben, came home, and told me mine tasted more like the real thing than the real thing!!!  Success!  It quickly became a staple weekend lunch at our house.

Vegan Reuben

Ingredients:

1 lb. seitan, thinly sliced (about 16 slices)

canola oil for frying the seitan

4 Tbsp. ketchup

6 Tbsp. vegan mayonnaise, such as Nayonaise brand

3 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish

1 jar good sauerkraut (We have been using Eden Organic—very, very tasty.)

8 slices rye bread, or other hearty whole grain bread

Method:

Heat 2 Tbsp. canola oil in large, non-stick skillet.  Add the sliced seitan and cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, until seitan is nicely browned.  Remove pan from heat and set aside.

Make the dressing:  In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup and vegan mayonnaise.  Stir in the relish.

Drain about 1 cup of the sauerkraut in a colander.

To grill:  Divide the seitan equally between four slices of bread.  Complete the sandwiches with four more slices of bread and place on indoor or outdoor grill, or use the good old George Foreman Grill (two sides cook at once— fast and easy) and grill until bread is toasted.  (Alternatively, toast the bread first, then layer on the seitan.)

Open the sandwiches and spread one side of the bread with the dressing.   Stack 1/4 cup of the sauerkraut on the seitan, replace the top on the sandwich.  Cut sandwiches in half and serve immediately with crispy potato chips and carrot sticks.  Serves 4.

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