Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Vegetarian Reubens

One of my favorite things is turning a very meaty meal into something equally good and vegetarian. In fact in the case of the reuben, I would only ever eat it vegetarian. Corned beef and I never got along. When I ate meat I also didn't like burgers but I absolutely love veggie burgers. I also didn't really like mushrooms when I ate meat but without meat I can really appreciate the heartiness of mushrooms and in fact I've been known to claim that if I was to exist on one food alone, it would be mushrooms. I've also been known to talk about mycology for extensive periods of time. Back to the Reubens though. I made them as traditional as I could without any meat. I got some great rye bread, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, a homemade Russian dressing, onions and of course the wonderful portobello mushroom.The end result is rich and gooey and kind of tangy. It's excellent.

Don't they look amazing? I just bought the package of presliced mushrooms from the supermarket. Such good mushrooms can really make a person forget all about meat.
I kind of threw this "Russian dressing" together with no real finesse. It was just a hodgepodge of a couple of recipes I saw online using ingredients I had readily available. I made it in a small portion but I used quite a few ingredients.
I wanted to cook the portobellos down so they would get really tender so I threw in some water and then covered them and simmered until the water was gone. It worked.
I got a bit excited and made the two sandwiches in the same pan which made flipping a bit difficult but completely worth it so I could eat them warm at the same time as my boyfriend.

Many of the ingredients in the recipe following are approximate and solely to my own taste. While I thought my reuben tasted great, I understand those people who love a lot of sauerkraut (and honestly unless you're eating a bratwurst, how often do you get to eat sauerkraut?) or like a really cheesey sandwich. So feel free to tweak the recipe! This makes about 3 sandwiches but it really depends on the bread, mine seemed smallish.

For sandwiches
6 oz package sliced portobello mushrooms
1 very small yellow onion or half of a large one chopped
2 tsp olive oil
3/4 cup sauerkraut
3 slices swiss cheese
6 slices good rye bread
margarine

For dressing
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp chopped capers
1 tsp lemon juice
Optional: chopped fresh dill

1. In a skillet heat up olive oil on medium heat and then add chopped onion. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Then add the sliced mushrooms and stir around. Add about 1/2 cup water, cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Allow all of the water to cook out and the mushrooms are tender. Transfer mushroom mixture to a bowl and wash out skillet.

2. While mushrooms are cooking, whisk together all of the ingredients for the Russian dressing.

3. Assemble sandwiches to place in the recently cleaned skillet like so: spread margarine on one side of the bread, on the other spread some of the russian dressing. Place margarine side down in the skillet and then top with some of the mushroom mixture, then sauerkraut and then the swiss cheese. Place another piece of bread on top and spread margarine on the outside of the bread. Cook on medium heat for about two minutes on each side.

4.  Repeat for two more sandwiches.

Things I might change: this recipe has really convinced me that I want to try to make my own sauerkraut that I could use in these. I would also advise shredded cheese instead of slices like I used so it is easier to control the amount of cheese in the sandwich. Some of mine were too gooey if there is such a thing. As a note too, be sure to use a fork to get the sauerkraut out of the jar so that you can sort of drain it and the sandwich doesnt get soggy.

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