A veganized and bowl-ified riff on a classic Reuben sandwich. Packed with nutritious gut-friendly foods, this meal-bowl takes some effort but is great for make-ahead meals and packed lunches.
One of the challenges of being a food blogger is constantly coming up with new and exciting recipes to post. Sometimes you come up with an idea (tempeh Reuben bowls!) and think that you’ve hit the big idea jackpot. Then you google it, just to check, and realize that approximately one-million other people have had the same idea. Not only that, you’ve even commented on another recipe, but then somehow erased that moment from your memory and convinced yourself you had a totally genius original idea. Durrrr.
Great minds think alike, right?
A few weekends ago I was having a hankering for a tempeh Reuben sandwich, and realized happily that I had everything on hand, including some legit German sauerkraut. The tempeh marinade I use calls for an overnight soak, which is all well and good if you’re planning ahead, but not so much if you want a Reuben right nowwwwww. So I compromised; a quick and dirty marinate for my sandwich filling, but since I was making the marinade anyways I threw in enough tempeh for these bowls and let it have a good long soak.
It’s hard to say which I prefer more, the bowls or the sandwich. If I could only ever have one I’d probably go sandwich; it’s just so lush and indulgent. But it’s not the kind of sandwich you could pack for lunch, and you know me, I’m a lady who (packs) lunches. The bowls are packed with flavour, sturdy, and transport well. And, they’ll last the better part of the week in your fridge which means you can enjoy Rebuen bowls all the live long week.
But these bowls aren’t just delicious (and they are – seriously, so delicious I want to punch something), they’re also nutritional heavy hitters. We could probably all stand to add more fermented foods into our lives, and this bowl brings a quick one-two punch with both tempeh and sauerkraut. Why fermented foods? Good question. Fermentation enriches our foods with probiotics, or beneficial bacteria. These bacteria, when we ingest them, populate our intestinal tracts and keep opportunistic bacteria at bay, help manufacture vitamins, and work with our immune systems. Eating fermented foods is, for many of us, a key to good digestive health.
Since the tempeh is baked, the heat will destroy some of the beneficial bacteria, but the fermentation process makes this soy product easier to digest and many of its nutrients more bioavailable. When you’re purchasing other fermented products such as sauerkraut or yoghurt, try and find a brand that isn’t pasteurized (or make your own!), as that process will also destroy much of the gut-friendly bacteria we’re after.
Also in this bowl: a bed of greens, shredded beets, a mix of whole grains, and a handful of pickles. I replaced the traditional Russian dressing with a lemony tahini sauce which is great on all kinds of things. If you’d prefer to make this into a sandwich instead of a bowl I can highly recommend a slice or two of cheese thrown into the mix and melted under the broiler. But as good as this is in sandwich form, the bowls really have my lunch packing heart.
Tempeh is fermented soy food originally from Indonesia. It is fermented with the mold Rhizopus oligosporus in a process similar to cheese making. The fermentation process makes digestion easier and nutrients like zinc, calcium, and iron are more bio available than in non-fermented soy products like tofu. Tempeh is a great source of plant-based protein. Also, because the soy beans in tempeh are still in their whole form, all of the dietary fiber is still intact. Think of tofu as the white bread of the soy world and tempeh as it’s healthier whole grain cousin. Tempeh is usually purchased in a cake-like form and can be sliced or crumbled, and is often steamed, seared, or stir-fried. Look for tempeh that is covered with a thin whitish bloom. Sometimes it has a few black or grayish spots, which is totally fine, but it should have no evidence of pink, yellow, or blue colouration – a sign that it has become overly fermented.
Three years ago: Pesto Penne with Edamame (This is the least popular recipe on the entire blog! It has terrible photos that deserve an update, but is a great quick and easy recipe that deserves your love.)
tempeh reuben bowls
- 2 x 200g package tempeh
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 1/3 cup soy sauce or liquid aminos I use Braggs
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup red wine
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp cracked pepper
- ⅓ cup tahini paste
- 3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup water more for a thinner sauce
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup sauerkraut or more if you like
- 2 medium beets peeled and grated
- 2 cups cooked whole grains such as farro wheat berries, quinoa, or a mix
- 4 cups leafy greens I used baby spinach
- 2 dill pickles sliced
- To make the marinade, combine the broth, oregano, garlic, soy sauce, olive oil, red wine vinegar, red wine, cloves, and pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat, reduce, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Slice the tempeh into cubes (or slabs if you're making sandwiches) and place into a shallow bowl or container. Pour the marinade over the tempeh slices, cover, and refrigerate for one day or overnight.
- You can make the lemony tahini sauce while the tempeh is marinating, and keep in the fridge overnight. Whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, water, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- When you're ready to bake the tempeh and make the bowls, preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
- Strain the marinade off of the tempeh, and arrange the cubes on the baking sheets. Bake for 20-30 minutes, turing the cubes once halfway through. Remove the tempeh from the oven and set aside to cool. (But if you're making a sandwich, use the tempeh hot!)
- To assemble the Reuben bowls, divide the leafy greens amongst 4 bowls or lunch boxes. Add the tempeh, sauerkraut, grated beets, whole grains, and pickles.
- If serving immediately, drizzle with a bit of tahini sauce. If packing for lunches, pack with a small container of sauce tucked alongside.
If you don't have time for an overnight marinade try to give it at least a few hours. If you're having a tempeh Reuben emergency (hey, we've all been there) then do like this: combine the marinade ingredients in a pot. Add the tempeh to the pot, and boil everything for 10 minutes. Pluck the tempeh from the marinade (maybe you're reserving the rest of it for a long soak?) and pan-fry the tempeh in a little bit of olive oil until golden on each side.
Tempeh marinade is adapted from ReBar. The rest is a Muffin Myth original.