Tempeh Beet Reuben

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I have to issue a few warnings about this sandwich: You will end up covered in orange dressing. Some sauerkraut will fall on your cat’s head. And if those things don’t happen, you’re eating it wrong. Tangy tempeh and thinly sliced beets lend a corned-beefy Eastern European flair to this sandwich. With the caraway rye, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, it definitely hits all the right notes! If you’d like to take it a step further, homemade Swizz Cheese drives the point home, but in a pinch some sliced avocado works really well instead—that’s how we ate Reubens in the 1990s and we loved it.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (120 ml) vegetable broth
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) olive oil
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tamari Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound (455 g) tempeh, cut into 4 equal pieces, then cut across like a clamshell so that you have 8 thin pieces
  • 1 tennis ball-size beet, sliced as thin as you can get it
  • cup (75 ml) vegan mayo, store-bought or homemade
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • ¼ cup (40 g) finely chopped dill pickles
  • 8 large slices caraway rye bread
  • cups (375 g) sauerkraut, drained (reserve liquid if making Swizz Cheese)
  • Dill pickle slices on toothpicks, for garnish

Method

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, lemon juice, tamari, and black pepper to taste. Add the tempeh and beet slices and marinate for at least an hour, turning occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing: In a mug, mix the mayonnaise, ketchup, onion powder, and chopped dill pickles. Set aside.
  3. When you’re ready to cook the filling, preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tempeh and beets from the marinade, shake off excess liquid, and place them in the hot pan in a single layer. (A little overlapping is okay.) Cook for about 10 minutes, using a thin metal spatula to turn them often. When the beets are softened and the tempeh is browned, it’s ready!
  4. Toast the bread and spread the dressing on all the slices. Evenly divide the tempeh and beets among 4 slices of toast. If desired, pour a few tablespoons of warm Swizz Cheese on top of each pile of tempeh and beets. Add the sauerkraut, dividing it evenly among the Reubens, then close the sandwiches. Spike with dill pickle toothpicks and serve.