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The Deconstructed Reuben

My guy and I are on a personal journey to find the best vegan Reuben sandwich in the world. And, everybody sucks at making Reubens. Native Foods is pretty good, Seabirds sucks, Gratitude is mediocre, Real Food Daily didn't even get it right. We've tried a few places in Sonoma, San Louis Obispo, San Francisco, a couple others in L.A., and so far, nothing... I'm getting a little upset.

I, of course, don't eat gluten, and don't like to eat grains at all, so, until I perfect that perfect vegan reuben, I wanted to taste the makings of it in a healthy way that I wouldn't regret the next morning. Okay, having said that, there are a few key ingredients or flavors one must incorporate to get the right style for any kind of reuben. One, you need the protein or center of the reuben to be corned and flavored a little like corned beef. Two, you need the pickled part--some go with the dill pickle, some go with the sauerkraut, I feel that both are mandatory. Three, you need the dressing--Russian dressing is very important to the overall flavor and feeling of a reuben anything.

So, I wanted to make my reuben (not a perfect reuben by any means) a salad. Deconstruct the reuben into a healthy, IBS-friendly, good for your body and satisfying meal.

The Build:

Salad base of fresh kale, romaine, a little raddichio, and butter lettuce. On top of that, fresh and organic sauerkraut. Then comes the corned and pan-fried tempeh, then senntastic vegan swiss cheese and dill pickle relish. Then you're going to drizzle with Russian dressing, and top with just a small handful of chives or green onions. Voila! The Deconstructed Reuben.

The Ingredients:

serves two people

1 pack of tempeh (make sure it's the soy kind, to be extra sure of it's gluten-free-ness), sliced thin into strips

Corned marinade (recipe below)

2-3 tablespoons oil for frying

8 ounces or so of mixed greens (I like fresh kale without stems, butter lettuce, romaine, and raddichio)

1 cup fresh sauerkraut

1/2 cup senntastic swiss cheese* (or you can lamely substitute with daiya mozzarella)

1/4 cup chives/green onions

Russian Dressing

3/4 cup Vegenaise

1/4 cup organic ketchup

1/4 teaspoon Organic Vegan Wizard's Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 cup dill pickle relish

2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped

"Corned Beef" Tempeh Marinade (from Chez Bettay) 1 teaspoon whole allspice berries 1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds (brown or yellow) 1 teaspoon coriander seeds 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) 4 whole cloves 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns 1 teaspoon whole cardamom pods 1 large bay leaves, crumbled 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 stick cinnamon 1/2 cup fresh beet juice 4 tablespoons maple syrup pinch of cayenne 1/3 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar 4 tablespoons organic tamari 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

The Instructions:

First, the corned tempeh. Steam your tempeh for about 10-15 minutes and set aside (this is important because tempeh is very bitter if you don't steam it).

For the corned marinade, dry pan toast the allspice berries, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, cloves, peppercorns, and cardamom pods in a small frying pan on medium high heat until fragrant and the mustard seeds start to pop. Stir the entire time to prevent burning. Pour the warmed spices into a mortar and pestle and crush them to a rough but not powdered state. Crumble the bay leaf into the mortar and hit a few times then stir in the ground ginger. Scrape the corned spice blend into a bowl with the maple syrup, cayenne, vinegar, tamari, mustard, olive oil, and fresh beet juice. Whisk the mix til thoroughly combined. Put the steamed tempeh slices into a glass casserole dish and pour the marinade mixture over the sliced tempeh, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Combine all ingredients of the Russian dressing in a mason jar and shake til thoroughly mixed and delicious. Set aside.

In a hot pan on the stove, place 2-3 tablespoons of oil in pan, and when hot, add the tempeh from the marinade (must let sit overnight), and fry up for just a few minutes, until it starts to brown, on both sides. remove and place on paper towel.

Chop your greens mixture into fork-full sizes. Chop your scallions/green onions up; chop your cheese up into strips (or just settle for straight out of the bag daiya).

Pile the lettuce onto a plate, then add a heap of sauerkraut (about 1/4 cup), then place your strips of corned tempeh on top of that, then your dill pickle relish and strips of swiss cheese. Drizzle with Russian dressing, top with scallions, and you're ready to serve. Enjoy!

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