Friday, March 11, 2011

Vegetarian Reuben

I've never been great at making sandwiches. It's the one food I never can seem to do as well at home. Maybe it's that I'm not good at choosing what to put in a sandwich, or maybe it's just that it's hard to keep a variety of fresh sandwich ingredients around the house to keep it exciting. Even at restaurants, I never select the build your own sandwich option because I just know the preconceived menu sandwiches will always be better.

That said, I think this vegetarian Reuben is the first real success I've had with a sandwich at home. Last night was the third night in a row I've had this for dinner! And if I didn't run out of rye bread tonight would happily be the fourth. The ingredients for the most part can be kept in the house for more than a couple of days and the result is an incredibly flavorful and filling meal that even meat-eaters will crave. I recommend doubling the recipe, even going triple if you're feeding multiple household members, so you can store the pre-prepared tofu in the fridge and enjoy Reubens all week!

Vegetarian Reuben Sandwich
Adapted from The Grit

Makes about 3 sandwiches 

1 (14 oz.) block firm or extra firm tofu
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Dash of liquid smoke (Worth the investment!)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about half a lemon)
1/4 tsp. dried dill
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Sliced marble rye bread, toasted
Sliced swiss cheese
Sauerkraut (I found canned for $0.88!)
1000 Island Dressing
Spicy mustard
Red Onion, optional
Avocado, optional

  1. First thing, get as much moisture out of the tofu as possible by draining on paper towels while you get everything else gathered and measured out - mise en place, as they say. 
  2. Cut tofu into slices (But don't worry if they fall apart by the end. I couldn't thoroughly cook them without ending up with crumbles instead. In fact, if you just cut the tofuc into cubes to begin with the result would likely be the same.)
  3. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add tofu and toss and turn frequently until tofu begins to brown
  4. Combine a dash of liquid smoke (I used about 5 drops) with soy sauce, and add mixture to tofu with remaining spices and lemon. Toss to brown evenly and saute until tofu is very firm and slightly browned. Because of the soy sauce, it's difficult to tell when it's really browned, so I just taste pieces as it gets close to being done.
  5. Heat oven to 350 or 400 F. 
  6. Toast bread lightly. Spread mustard and dressing, one the each slice. Add sauerkraut followed by tofu and 2 slices of Swiss cheese to the bottom slice.
  7. Put second slice of bread on top of the sandwich and put in the oven for a couple minutes to melt the cheese. 
  8. Devour with a side of Guinness.

And if you want to make a full-blown restaurant-dining-at-home kind of night, go ahead and make these mock Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits too, or even a Golden Bowl (coming soon!). You won't regret it.

Just entered this sandwich into the Scanwiches Fanwiches Contest! Wish me luck! And check out this humorous blog at

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