I have a little bit of a thing for Reuben sandwiches, but I've never actually had a traditional Reuben sandwich. For a long time I was happy to cook up dishes that were vegetarian by default. Pasta, stir-fries, that kind of thing. It never really occurred to me to take dishes that were traditionally non-vegetarian, especially ones I'd never tried before, like the classic Reuben sandwich, and make it meatless. Then I met my husband, and once he learned that I was into cooking he requested a vegetarian Reuben. I got to work while he talked me through the ins and outs of what a Reuben sandwich was all about. I fell in love with the resulting sandwich, and in turn with the idea of making vegan and vegetarian versions of meat-based classics.
Also, I realized I'd really been missing out on the whole Reuben thing. I mean, a big old hearty sandwich with Russian dressing, sauerkraut, and in my case, savory plant-based protein? I proceeded to make a billion different versions of vegan and vegetarian Reubens.
My latest: a vegan tempeh Reuben wrap! I think of the traditional Reuben as being super hearty and wintry. Wraps are more warm weather food in my book, they can be eaten hot or cold, and they pack well. Perfect for this time of year.
The challenge in creating a Reuben wrap is in the sauerkraut, because all the juice can easily make the tortilla really soggy. My solution is to apply a thin layer of cashew-based Russian dressing (that's nice and thick, so it's essentially sog-free), followed by a couple of lettuce leaves, to create a nice barrier between the sauerkraut and tortilla.
The protein of these Reuben wraps is some super savory marinated tempeh. It's packed with flavor and texture, so it does a great job of standing in for the corned beef you'd find in a traditional Reuben. I also included a couple of avocado slices, to provide some rich creaminess in lieu of cheese, since I wanted to keep my wraps vegan. You could absolutely substitute some non-dairy cheese slices or dairy cheese if you aren't vegan.
For the marinated tempeh:
For the cashew Russian dressing:
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked in water 4 to 8 hours and drained
- ⅓ to ½ cup water
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tablespoon cayenne pepper based hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons pickle relish
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the wraps:
- 8 large flour tortillas
- 1 medium bunch green leaf lettuce
- 1 cup sauerkraut drained and squeezed to remove excess juice
- 1 avocado sliced
- Begin by making the marinated tempeh. Stir the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, and garlic powder together in a shallow dish. Add the tempeh cubes and toss to coat. Allow to marinade for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to redistribute the sauce.
- While the tempeh marinates, make the Russian dressing by placing the cashews, ⅓ cup of water, ketchup, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce together into a blender. Blend until smooth, thinning with a bit of extra water if needed. Add in the relish and pulse just to mix it in. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Once the tempeh has finished marinating, coat the bottom of a medium skillet with oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the tempeh to the skillet and cook for about 10 minutes, flipping once or twice, until the tempeh is browned on multiple sides.
- To assemble the wraps, slather each tortilla with a layer of the Russian dressing. Cover the layer of dressing with a few lettuce leaves. Arrange a fourth of the temeph cubes in a strip down the middle of the wrap, then spoon a strip of sauerkraut next to the tempeh. Arrange a few avocado slices over the tempeh and sauerkraut. Wrap and enjoy.