You may remember a few weeks ago I mentioned that Dennis had to go on antibiotics briefly, so I’ve been upping our intake of fermented foods, such as kimchi and sauerkraut. I’ve already shared a couple of my favorite kimchi recipes, so today I’m going to share one that I often make with sauerkraut.
Sauerkraut is simply fermented cabbage. Sometimes it’s made with carrots or apples, and it can be seasoned with caraway seeds or juniper berries. It originally hails from China, but the name is actually German. Today when we think of sauerkraut, we often think of Eastern European foods, and it’s frequently used in Polish and Russian cooking.
If you’re buying sauerkraut for its probiotic properties, I recommend getting a brand that’s stored in the refrigerator section at the grocery store. There are some shelf stable varieties, but they’re often made with a quick ferment, which means they don’t have the same health properties that those made with a longer fermentation process have. I usually buy Bubbies sauerkraut.
I’ve never actually had a non-vegan Reuben sandwich. I went vegetarian sometime around my 21stbirthday, and I just wasn’t that daring with new foods before that. Typically, they’re made with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dessing on rye bread. None of that sounded appealing to the younger version of me, except maybe the Swiss cheese.
Over the years, I’ve had many a vegan Reuben, and it’s become one of my favorite sandwiches. There’s a local eatery that makes it with seitan and Teese vegan cheese, and other that uses tempeh and a homemade dressing.
When I make Reuben sandwiches at home, I typically use marinated tempeh or tempeh bacon along with store-bought sauerkraut and my own Thousand Island Dressing. I’ll use whatever bread I have on hand, which is usually sprouted grain bread, and sometimes I might add a little vegan cheese, if I happen to have some in the fridge.
Another way I like to enjoy a Reuben is in salad form. I can’t say the idea is original, because I took it from Terry Hope Romero’s brilliant book Salad Samurai, but I’ve tweaked the recipe quite a bit over the years.
My Reuben salad is pretty simple. It’s made with chopped lettuce and cabbage, sauerkraut, tempeh bacon, and Thousand Island Dressing. If you don’t have the time or patience to make your own tempeh bacon and dressing, you can use store-bought.
When I first started making this salad, I used bread croutons, but now I like to use roasted chickpeas. In fact, I use roasted chickpeas in almost all of my salads. They’re super tasty, and they’re far more nutritious than dried bread.
While I say in the recipe that this makes four servings, I will admit that I usually pile our plates high, and Dennis and polish the whole thing off in one meal!
Mix the romaine, shredded cabbage, and sauerkraut together in a large bowl. Top with the Thousand Island Dressing, Tempeh Bacon, and Garlicky Chickpeas.
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