Comfort food! Today, our favourite food writer Chris Perrin offers a vegan version of the classic Reuben sandwich, along with a recipe for vegan Thousand Island dressing… If you’ve been following his tasty contributions here each month, you’ll know that Chris has a cook’s certification from the Kansas City Culinary Institute, writes for BIAO Magazine, food-blogs at Blog Well Done, and is working on his own vegan cookbook. Enjoy! ~ Jen
Lately, I have been on a sandwich kick which is a bit odd because before being veg, I took sandwiches for granted. They were everyday fare, something to grab on a busy day when I needed to shovel something quick. But now lunch meat is no longer a viable option, you know, because of the meat and all, and vegetarian sandwich slices are still a little ways off.
Sometimes, I just miss a good hearty sandwich piled high with fixings.
Fortunately, where there is a will, there is a way and even without meat there can still be sandwiches. All I need is a little ingenuity, a little planning, and two packages of good ol’ seitan.
This motivation to make this sandwich actually grew out a craving for sauerkraut which sounds as just as weird as it was. The only problem in making it is the lack of any sort of faux corned beef. The good news is that corning some seitan is an easy process, but it does take over night. Still that means if you get to corning now, you can be having tasty reubens tomorrow!
Vegan Corned Beef
To make corned beef, all you need to do is a make brine (salted water) and soak the seitan in it over night. If you have real meat, just triple the water, brown sugar and salt and soak the meat for 3-14 days instead of overnight. Also, add some saltpeter if you have it or the meat will not be that lovely pink color.
6 cups of water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cloves
3-5 bay leaves
1 tablespoon juniper berries
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon all spice powder
2 packages of seitan
Pour all ingredients except the seitan into a pot and boil for five minutes. Set aside to cool.
Pour the brine into a plastic bowl and add the seitan. Put into the refrigerator overnight to brine.
(See, that was easy, wasn’t it?)
The following recipe makes 16 sandwiches.
Once the seitan is ready, it is time to make the sandwich. Reubens are pressed sandwich so make sure you have a skillet and something you can set on top of the skillet (consider a second skillet) and something with some weight to it (usually a few cans of beans or veggies.)
2 packages corned seitan
16 slices of rye bread
8 tablespoons of vegan thousand island dressing (see below) or Dijon mustard
16 slices vegan Swiss cheese
8 tablespoons of sauerkraut
8 tablespoons of olive oil
Heat oven to 350°F. Lay the seitan out on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let the seitan cool.
Layout all 16 slices of bread and coat each with half a tablespoon of vegan thousand island or Dijon mustard. Add the seitan to one half and the vegan Swiss on the other. Put the sauerkraut on the top of the cheese and fold the sandwich. (By the way, order does matter.)
Bring a skillet to heat over a medium high flame. Coat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place two sandwiches in the skillet and top with a second skillet or cookie sheet and then put a weight on the second skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes and then flip. Cook for another 1-2 minutes and remove the sandwiches.
If you are not vegan and you are using real Swiss cheese, make sure that the Swiss melts. Vegan Swiss cheese takes forever to melt, so just make sure the sandwich is heated all the way through.
Once the first set of sandwiches is done, wait about a minute for the skillet to get hot before repeating for the second set of sandwiches. Repeat until all reubens are done.
Serve with fries or chips and you will never miss regular reubens again. Oh, you will also end all your sauerkraut cravings!
Vegan Thousand Island Dressing
When it comes to reubens, I am a mustard fan, but I know a lot of people like their Thousand Island dressing. Here is a recipe using vegenaise, which is a mayonnaise replacement made from canola oil.
1/2 cup veganaise
6 ounces of tomato sauce
1 tablespoon vegan sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sweet pickles, finely diced
2 teaspoons sweet pickle juice
Blend all ingredients in a bowl until well incorporated.
For more of what is going in Chris’ lunchbox, on his dinner table, and on his party menus, as well as thoughts on food and culture, food in the media, and even the occasional recipe featuring meat, check out Chris’ food blog, Blog Well Done.