The Ultimate Tempeh Reuben

The Ultimate Tempeh Reuben - Traveling Fork

I feel like there's no middle ground when it comes to sandwiches - you either have a really good sandwich that is full of flavorful ingredients that complement each other in just the right way or you have a really disappointing sandwich that fails to satisfy and leaves you feeling very underwhelmed. Sandwiches can make or break a day. This sandwich definitely falls into former category - a really good sandwich. While I love the traditional rueben layered with corned beef or pastrami, swiss, sauerkraut, and 1000 island dressing in between two slices of grilled rye bread, this tempeh version is arguably just as delicious, if not more. If you're a meat-lover, you just need to keep an open mind ;) 

Tempeh is one of my favorite 'alternative' protein sources to eat because it has a great texture and just like tofu it absorbs whatever flavors you marinate it in. The marinade is the key to success when working with tempeh or tofu, as I found out during my 15-year stint as a vegetarian. But back to the sandwich. In between these layers of fresh rye bread, I piled in thick slices of maple-mustard tempeh, slow-cooked red wine onions, avocado mayo, swiss cheese, arugula, and homemade sauerkraut. Each component is super easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time for easy sandwich making on busy week days. I also highly recommend serving these tempeh reubens for a delicious weekend brunch feast. Serve with crunchy pickles and some good quality salt and vinegar potatoes chips.  


// The Ultimate Tempeh Reuban // Makes 2-3 sandwiches
As mentioned above, all of these components can be made ahead of time if you're short on time or want to prep lunches for the week. I wouldn't recommend making the sandwiches beforehand as they'll get soggy and soggy sandwiches are a no-go in my book. Also, if you have a panini grill, by all means use it! We don't have one, so we simply 'grill' our reuben's in a frying pan

For the marinade:
8 oz tempeh
1/3 cup safflower or canola oil
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon whole brown mustard seeds

For the red wine onions:
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup red wine, divided

For the avocado mayo:
1 large avocado
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon horseradish (optional)
Black pepper to taste

To assemble sandwiches:
4 slices rye bread (6 if you're making 3 sandwiches). Good quality makes a difference!
4 teaspoons butter, more if needed
4 slices swiss cheese
2-4 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/3 cup arugula
1/3 cup Sauerkraut

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Slice the tempeh into 1/4-inch slices (you should end up with 20-24 slices) and arrange slices in a single layer in a baking dish. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the oil, mustard, maple syrup, vinegar, salt, and mustard seeds. Pour marinade over tempeh and marinate for at least 30 minutes, flipping slices once or twice. Bake tempeh for 20 minutes. Flip slices and bake for another 18-20 minutes or until all marinate is absorbed and slices are browned

2. While tempeh is baking, make the red onions. Heat butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat. Add red onions and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently. When onions are soft add 1/4 cup red wine, caraway seeds, and salt. Continue to cook for another 8-10 minutes or until red wine has been reduced. Add another 1/4 cup of red wine and continue cooking. Repeat until 1 cup of red wine has been used and onions are fully cooked. Transfer to a bowl

3. To make the avocado mayo, mash together the avocado, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, horseradish, and black pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside until needed

4. To assemble sandwiches, butter one side of each piece of bread with 1/2-1 teaspoon butter. On the other side of two pieces of bread (not the buttered side) spread about 2-3 tablespoons of avocado mayo. On the other two pieces of bread (again, not the buttered side) spread 1-2 teaspoons of dijon mustard. On the avocado mayo half, layer 2 slices of swiss cheese, 6-8 slices of tempeh, some red onions, small handful of arugula, and about 2 tablespoons or more of sauerkraut. Top with second piece of bread, mustard side down

5. Heat a large skilled over medium heat. Cook sandwiches one at a time, buttered sides down, for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Bread should be deep golden brown and crispy and cheese melted. Enjoy immediately