Ever since I made sauerruben, I keep finding myself wondering whether Reuben sandwiches were originally made with fermented turnip, rather than what is now considered the defining attributes, sauerkraut and a pink dressing. It makes sense to me, since “ruben” is the German word for turnip, which naturally turns a lovely shade of pink when fermented. I could find no evidence of this online, but that didn’t stop me from making my own spin on the classic. Perfect for a quick lunch after we returned famished from a lovely hike by the Oconaluftee River this morning. My only regret is that I am now out of sauerruben, and don’t have any turnips to make another batch.
Tempeh Ruben Sandwich
Makes 4 heaping sandwiches
1 package tempeh, thinly sliced
A few generous splashes tamari and apple cider vinegar
A spoonful or two of prepared mustard (or a sprinkle of dry mustard)
A sprinkle of ground coriander and chili powder (or whatever seasonings you prefer)
1-2 tablespoons butter or oil
1 small chopped onion
Sliced caraway bread
A few pats of butter (optional)
Sliced cheddar cheese (or whatever type of cheese you prefer, or none at all)
1 pint sauerruben
Marinate tempeh in soy sauce, vinegar, mustard, and spices. Meanwhile, saute onion in oil or butter for a few minutes until it begins to soften, then add tempeh and fry, stirring occasionally, until tempeh is golden and lightly crisped. While the tempeh is cooking, prepare the bread, either by sticking it in a toaster or buttering it and grilling it in a pan. Melt cheese onto the bread, then top with sauerruben and tempeh, and another piece of crisped bread if desired (we enjoyed them open-faced), and serve warm.