Loaded with tempeh bacon and sauerkraut and drenched in non-dairy Thousdand Island dressing, this vegan Reuben salad is a terrific light meal for the summer. It's a healthy take on a favorite sandwich! This easy recipe is vegan and gluten-free.
I’ve never actually had a non-vegan Reuben sandwich. I went vegetarian sometime around my 21st birthday, 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.
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.
Vegan Reuben Salad
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.
When I first started making this salad, I used bread croutons. 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 Dennis and polish the whole thing off in one meal!
What is Sauerkraut?
I originally created this recipe a few years ago after Dennis had to take a round of antibiotics. I was upping our intake of fermented foods, such as kimchi and sauerkraut, to restore his gut flora.
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.
What You Need
You only need a few ingredients to make this salad
- Romaine lettuce
- Red cabbage
- Thousand Island Dressing
- Tempeh bacon
- Garlicky roasted chickpeas
See recipe card for exact amounts.
How to Make Vegan Reuben Salad
This salad is really easy to make, especially if you have remade ingredients on hand.
- First you throw the lettuce, cabbage, and sauerkraut together in a bowl.
- Then you top it with dressing, tempeh bacon, and roasted chickpeas.
- And your salad is done!
I like to use homemade ingredients for this salad, but you can use store-bought to save time.
If you don't want to make your own tempeh bacon, you can use Lightlife's Smoky Tempeh Strips or Tofurky's Marinated Smoky Maple Bacon Tempeh Strips. Make sure you cook your store-bought tempeh bacon before adding to the salad.
If you follow a gluten-free diet, make sure your tempeh (or tempeh bacon) is gluten-free.
- Mix the romaine, shredded cabbage, and sauerkraut together in a large bowl. Top with the Thousand Island Dressing, Tempeh Bacon, and Garlicky Chickpeas.