This recipe was born as an attempt to recreate the amazing reuben at North End Cafe, which is on our must-eat list whenever we visit Louisville. Crunchy, chewy, tangy, savory, with a punch of rye… who doesn’t love a good reuben?
2 packages of extra firm tofu (preferably not pre-pressed)
1 loaf of marble rye
1 package of sauerkraut
1 cup eggless mayo
1/3 cup ketchup
Couple tablespoons of Miyoko’s butter
Pinch of salt
Dill pickles for garnish (optional)
Servings: This makes about 6 sandwiches, depending on the size of your bread. All the fixings keep well in the fridge, so even if that’s more sandwiches than you need for one meal, I recommend preparing the components for the full recipe, so that you can have it again later in the week. (Or so you can have another one right away, like we usually do…)
Marble rye: Although this type of bread can be tough to find, it’s really worth it if you can track it down. We get ours from the Bluff View Bakery, whose building is so whimsical that the bread is probably baked by gnomes.
Veggie mayo: Flavor-wise, I prefer the “Just Mayo” and “Sir Kensington’s” brands of eggless mayos, but any type will do. It’s also not too tricky to make your own with flaxseed, but I usually take the lazy way out.
The first step is to cook the tofu. Note: you can also do this the day before and put the tofu in the fridge, and just pull it out when you’re ready to assemble and griddle your sandwiches.
Oven option: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Remove the block of tofu from its package and place it on a cutting board. Cut the block into quarters, and then cut each quarter into four pieces. You’ll be left with 16 rectangular pieces about 1/2” thick. Repeat for the second package.
Place the tofu pieces on a baking sheet, ideally onto a nonstick surface like a Silpat or parchment paper. Sprinkle a little salt and drizzle a little olive oil on top of the tofu pieces. Place near the center of the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. The tofu is done when it’s a little brown around the edges, but make sure you stop cooking before the whole piece gets super dried out or tough.
Sandwich press option: Prep the tofu as described above, and just plop your tofu slices onto the sandwich press (season with oil and salt if desired), and cook until they have nice grill marks, and aren’t sopping wet, but also not totally dried out and chewy.
Set the tofu aside, or put it in the fridge if you’re making it ahead.
Grab enough marble rye for however many sandwiches you plan to assemble. If you freeze your sandwich bread like I do, go ahead and toast the bread lightly — not enough to get it super toasty, but just to defrost it.
In a bowl, stir together the mayo and ketchup until evenly combined.
Time to start assembling! Take two bread slices and spread the mayo/ketchup mix onto one side of each. The sauced side is the “inside” of the sandwich. On one of the sauced sides, place a few tofu pieces until you have an even layer that mostly covers the bread. Take some sauerkraut from its container, using a fork to avoid getting too much liquid, and add an even layer of sauerkraut over the tofu. Take it a little easy on the sauerkraut, or things might get too soggy/messy. Drizzle a little more sauce on top of the sauerkraut, because who doesn’t love sauce? Now place the other piece of bread on top, sauce side down.
Pan option: Heat a pan on the stove over medium heat. Spread a little plant butter on the top of the sandwich, and then using a spatula, pick it up and flip it butter-side down into the skillet. Be a little careful when you’re flipping the sandwich over, or else it will fall apart! Cook for a few minutes, until the underside is browned to your desired amount.
When that side looks pretty done, spread some butter on the top of the sandwich, and flip it with a spatula so that the other side can cook. Once the second side is browned to your liking, you’re ready to eat! (Usually the second side takes less time.)
Sandwich press option: Spread butter on the top of the sandwich. Cut off a couple slices of butter, toss them onto the press (a less-messy way of buttering the bottom side!), and put your sandwich on top of the butter. Cook to your desired brownness, usually around 10 minutes.
These are most delicious if you eat them ASAP, so I recommend serving your guests first and saving the chef for last. Bon appétit!