I still remember my first Reuben Sandwich. I was a college student and, among the standard dorm fare, an occasional Reuben would appear. With my daily ballet classes, I could put away three of these hearty sandwiches on the all-you-can-eat lunch menu–without gaining an ounce. Yes, those were the days.
Of course a Reuben sandwich isn’t exactly health food with its juicy (read, fatty) corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing, all grilled on rye bread–but it sure is tasty. The corned beef is a particular problem—in my current days of organic, grass-fed beef and (mostly) no nitrates, corned beef doesn’t cut it, even well-trimmed. Many restaurants are attempting to deal with this by offering a “Rachel” made with sliced turkey instead of corned beef. But you can up take this one step better by making your Reuben with Tempeh.
Per Wikipedia “tempeh is a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but it is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities. Tempeh’s fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins. It has a firm texture and an earthy flavor…”
I had my first tempeh Reuben at the restaurant of a local health food store–and I quickly realized that most of a Reuben’s appeal comes from the flavor combo, not from the corned beef. Yup, I didn’t miss the meat at all.
While the sandwich still comes in a bit high in fat and calories, it can truly work for an occasional indulgence. Other health tips—use a diet dressing and only a thin smear of butter on the bread. Finally, if you are lucky enough to have access to fresh sauerkraut with live cultures (like Zymbiotics Zauerkraut), consider adding it after grilling the sandwich to keep the probiotics alive.
An indulgent grilled sandwich with fermented soy and probiotics—life is good!
- 2 slices rye bread
- 2 tablespoons diet Thousand Island dressing (non-dairy for vegan option)
- 3 ounces tempeh, sliced (1 12 ounce package will make 4 sandwiches)
- 1 ounce of sliced Swiss cheese (non-dairy for vegan option)
- ¼ cup sauerkraut
- ½ tablespoon butter or margarine
- Layer the following on one slice of rye bread: swiss cheese, sliced tempeh, sauerkraut.
- Spread the 2nd slice of bread with thousand island dressing on one side and a thin layer of butter on the other. Lay the thousand island side down on the sauerkraut.
- Melt remaining butter in a frying pan and carefully set the sandwich, buttered side up, in the pan.
- Grill until toasted, then flip sandwich and grill second side until toasted and the cheese is melted.
- Cut in half and serve.
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