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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

vegan reuben sandwiches

i guess there is some kind of a 'war' happening in los angeles over which vegan restaurant has the best vegan reuben. i have tried two of them so far.

the first (and best) was when zane and i stopped by Locali to grab sandwiches on our way to a movie. their vegan reuben is on marbled rye bread and somehow magically the "meat" slices on it are the same color as actual corned beef. zane remarked that he had no idea what kind of meat they were using. i'm pretty positive that they are using some kind of a standard vegan deli slice and that they are dying it using beets. at least this is what i did.

the second vegan reuben sandwich that we tried was at Follow Your Heart which is a vegan grocery store in the valley with a little restaurant inside. their vegan reuben was pretty tasty but it didn't have pink sandwich meat. maybe this seems silly but i think that a big part of tricking your brain into believing that faux-meat that you are eating tastes like the real thing is whether or not it also LOOKS like the real deal. this is a big part of what made the locali reuben the winner for me.

sometime last week zane asked me if i wanted to go with him to get another delicious locali reuben and i suggested that we make them instead. i don't think that our recipe is exactly perfect yet but i wanted to go ahead and share it anyway. it's pretty fucking good even if it's not as good as i think it could be. i'm really looking forward to making them again and improving upon what we did. i think we have a really solid base recipe that anyone could easily pull off and add to in order to make it their own.

this is what you're going to need:

as much basic tofurkey deli slices as are needed for the number of sandwiches you are going to make. we made about 6 sandwiches and used about 2.5 packs of tofurkey slices. i think we could have packed more faux-meat into our sandwiches.

a few red beets

plain old white vinegar

a jar of sauerkraut. we used bubbie's sauerkraut (available at whole foods) and i thought it was a little too mild tasting. next time we will probably buy a cheap one and hopefully it will be more sour tasting. reubens are sour! some people don't love sauerkraut and if that is the case with you then the bubbie's brand might be your best friend.

thousand island dressing. vegan recipe to follow.

daiya cheese. daiya is the best of all vegan cheeses. it melts and behaves a lot like a real cheese. stretchy and all. you don't have to do anything special to it. pretty magical.

a loaf of delicious rye bread.

earth balance or other vegan margarine.

quarter the beets, drizzle with oil and salt them generously. place the beats into a baking dish and add about 2cm of water to the bottom of the baking dish. cover tightly with foil and place into a preheated 375 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes. this will create a dark pink liquid that you can use to dye your tofurkey slices. it will also provide you with some roasted beets that you can put into a salad. beets keep really well so use them the next day to make something healthy to help you get over the stomach ache you might have from eating too many delicious reubens.

while you're waiting for your beets to cook you should whip up your thousand island dressing. you will need----

3/4 cups of vegenaise

1/4 cup of silken tofu

3 teaspoons of finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons of minced yellow onion

2 tablespoons of minced dill pickle

1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of horseraddish (optional)

1/2 teaspoon of chili oil (optional)

3 tablespoons of ketchup

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon of vegan worcesheshire sauce
(honestly can anyone spell that. i can't!)

put all of that stuff in a bowl together and stir. you can taste and add more or less of any of the ingredients until you get the flavor that you like the best. cover and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble your sandwiches.

when your beets are fork soft and sitting in a puddle of dark pink liquid then they are ready to be removed from the oven. remove the beets from the liquid and set them aside in another container.

allow the liquid to cool in the baking dish. add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the baking dish with the pink liquid and stir with a whisk. begin to add the tofurkey slices to the liquid a few at a time and allow them to soak a few seconds. you may need to flip them over to get them really coated. once they are evenly pink set them aside in the dish and add new slices for dying. a little bit of liquid goes a very long way here.

ta da! vegan "corned beef" all thanks to our friend the beet!

we used our deli slices right away to make our sandwiches. you could marinate them overnight if you like and you could even take it a step further and add some brining spices to the marinade. real corned beef is brined and cooks for a very long time. brining is where a lot of the flavor comes from and i think that next time i make these i will try to brine the deli slices. it might be a disaster. we shall see.

at this point you will be ready to assemble your sandwiches. a couple of final steps before you are ready:

generously "butter" one side of each slice of your rye bread using your vegan margarine.

using your hands squeeze excess liquid from sauerkraut and set into a bowl.

now you are ready to generously load your sandwiches with your vegan corned beef (this goes on first) and then your daiya cheese, then sauerkraut and then lots of delicious vegan thousand island dressing. really you can do it in any order but that's how we stacked ours.

heat a large skillet over medium heat and place the sandwiches into the pan. use another pan or heavy lid to press the sandwiches by placing it directly onto the sandwiches like so

leave them in the pan a couple of minutes on each side until toasty and golden brown. slice in halves and eat!

we served ours with a basic warm red potato salad made with herbs, olive oil, mustard and a little vegenaise.

and here are my happy loved ones with their meat-free vegan reuben sandwiches.

i want to try to use a similar concept to make vegan corned beef hash for breakfast this weekend. if we get around to that we will blog it! thanks for reading and feel free to ask questions if anything was confusing. =D


  1. Pro cook trick du jour: layer the "meat", kraut and dressing between 2 slices of cheese to help keep the bread from getting soggy.

  2. I'm not a big sandwich fan but that looks so good I'll have to try it out


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