Week 1, Day 4 of My Eating Well Challenge. Weekend lunches in our home are usually sandwiches. Grilled sandwiches are even better. The classic reuben is piled high with corned beef, melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing (or Thousand Island) on rye. It’s certainly one of my favorites.
The preface to this recipe states that you “won’t even miss the corned beef.” I scoffed when I read that. I’ve made plenty of vegetarian look-a-like recipes that make similar declarations. While these recipes can be good, and some great, the meat is usually such a definitive component of the dish that one can’t help but notice its absence.
What a shock to find that I really didn’t miss the corned beef! This sandwich has all the flavors and textures of a classic reuben. Of course one can tell there is no corned beef, but the pronounced taste of the filling, dressing, and cheese left us happily satisfied.
The only issue I have is with the recipe is the name. I believe the recipe is much closer to Thousand Island than Russian dressing. Either way, it’s delicious.
Vegetarian Reubens with Russian Dressing
This exceptional sandwich originated at Penny Cluse Cafe in Burlington, Vermont. The spinach, mushroom and onion filling is so satisfying, you won’t even miss the corned beef.
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 teaspoons ketchup
2 teaspoons chopped capers
1 teaspoon chopped pickle, or relish
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
5 cups baby spinach
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 slices rye bread
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese, such as Jarlsberg Lite or Alpine Lace (2 ounces)
1/2 cup sauerkraut
1. Prepare Russian dressing: Whisk mayonnaise and ketchup in a small bowl until smooth. Stir in capers and pickle (or relish).
2. To prepare sandwiches: Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, 4 minutes. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until it has wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a plate.
3. Coat the pan with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and return to medium heat. Add the bread; divide cheese equally among the slices. Divide sauerkraut between 2 slices and divide the spinach mixture between the other 2 slices; cook until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer sandwich halves to a cutting board. Divide the dressing between the spinach halves. Carefully place the sauerkraut halves on top. Cut sandwiches in half and serve.
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