An American grilled sandwich is not a reuben without corned beef, but that doesn’t mean that reuben toppings can’t be used to upgrade other, vegetable-heavy sandwiches, because vegetables is a good practice. Tangy Russian dressing, melted Swiss cheeses, and funky sauerkraut bring joy to everyone they hang out with, and vegetable lovers should take advantage of the dynamic trio.
Bitter flavours are often dismissed as undesirable, but a little bitterness can bring delicious nuance to an otherwise one-note plate. Bitter greens are particularly welcome alongside rich, salty dishes, and the best way to make them pop is with a drizzle of honey.
These toppings work well with almost any vegetable, but there are a few things to keep in mind when constructing this sandwich. Firstly, pick a hearty vegetable. A good reuben is a battle, a balancing act of contrasting flavours and — unless you are intentionally trying to obscure the taste of a plant part—you want a vegetable that can hold its own against the other ingredients.
Roasted broccoli, crispy sautéed mushrooms, and charred eggplant are all good choices, but take care to season the vegetable itself. A simple salting goes a long way, but don’t sleep on brining — brined, roasted cauliflower would be perfect here, as would roasted pickled vegetables.
(For extra credit, use a corned beef brine on that cauli.) This is also a perfect opportunity to use up the last bit of whatever veggie side you had for dinner last night, even if it’s a bit of mixed bag; a combo of roasted carrots with a scoop of sautéed spinach would be divine.
Once you have assembled your sandwich team, there are a few other details to take care of before throwing it all together. Swiss is an ok melting cheese, but not a great one, so make sure your vegetables are hot (warm up leftovers as needed), including the sauerkraut (10 or 15 seconds in the microwave will take care of that).
Once they’re warm, blot them to remove excess moisture. Then, generously butter the outsides of two slices of rye bread, spreading Russian dressing on the insides, and stack ‘kraut, vegetables, and cheese. Close it up, and grill over medium heat until the outsides are crispy and the cheese is melted. Take a bite and acknowledge that, while it is not a reuben, it is a pretty damn good vegetable sandwich.