What’s the benefit of eating the superfood sauerkraut if you pair it with carcinogenic processed meats like corned beef? That’s the Reuben dilemma.

So we fixed it.

We made a vegetarian Reuben that captures the mouthwatering combination of crisp grilled rye bread with melted Swiss, homemade Russian dressing—and plenty of sauerkraut. Instead of corned beef, we used tempeh “bacon,” a marinated version of the traditional fermented soybean protein-rich food that’s delicious in its own right.

It’s really good.

Sauerkraut, a kind of fermented cabbage, is not only nutritious but a great source of probiotics, those beneficial gut bacteria that are key to healthy digestion, immunity, even a positive mood. But if you want those live, beneficial bacteria, skip the canned or jarred sauerkraut that’s been pasteurized, which kills the bacteria. Instead, buy refrigerated raw sauerkraut—or make your own.

The resulting Reuben, with its grilled bread, smoky tempeh, melted cheese and tangy sauerkraut, is simply irresistible…and virtuous. Here’s the recipe.


Makes 2 sandwiches

For dressing…

2 Tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons reduced-sugar ketchup

1 Tablespoon drained sweet pickle relish

1 Tablespoon finely minced onion

For sandwiches…

Vegetable cooking spray

6 slices tempeh bacon (such as Tofurky Smoky Maple Bacon Marinated Tempeh)

1 Tablespoon butter, softened

4 slices of rye bread

⅔ cup shredded Swiss cheese

⅔ cup drained raw sauerkraut

Prepare dressing: Combine mayonnaise, ketchup, pickle relish and onion in a small bowl, and stir well.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the skillet with cooking spray. Add tempeh bacon strips, and cook until browned, about 1½ minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and cut in half.

Spread butter evenly on one side of each bread slice. Heat skillet over medium heat, and then add the bread slices, buttered sides down. Immediately mound ⅓ cup cheese on top of two of the slices. Cover and cook until bottoms of bread slices are toasted and golden and cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.

Transfer cheese-topped bread slices to serving plates along with one plain toasted slice. Arrange 3 slices of tempeh bacon on cheese. Spoon sauerkraut on bacon slices, dividing evenly. Spread dressing mixture evenly on plain toasted slices, and place bread tops, dressing sides down, on sauerkraut and serve.