Radical Reuben Recipe | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

Radical Reuben

This recipe was a winner in our 2008 Restaurant Poll, and is a popular sandwich at Chicago Diner in Chicago, Illinois. We were impressed by its innovative use of beet and pickle juices to turn seitan into a tangy substitute for corned beef. Can't find beet juice? Purée a 15-ounce can of beets and use it for the marinade.



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1 lb. seitan, thinly sliced
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1 cup pickle juice
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½ cup beet juice or beet borscht
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1 tsp. pickling spice
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¾ tsp. garlic powder
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⅛ tsp. ground black pepper
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¼ cup soy mayonnaise
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3 Tbs. ketchup
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2 Tbs. finely chopped pickles
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8 slices rye bread
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4 slices Swiss or soy cheese


1. To make Seitan: Place seitan in baking dish. Bring pickle juice, beet juice, pickling spice, garlic powder, pepper, and 1 cup water to a boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes. Strain marinade, and pour over sliced seitan. Cover and cool. Chill overnight.

2. To make Reuben Sauce: Combine all ingredients in bowl.

3. To make Sandwiches: Preheat oven to broil. Set bread slices on baking sheet. Top 4 bread slices with drained Seitan and cheese. Broil 5 to 7 minutes, or until Seitan is hot and cheese is melted. Transfer Seitan-topped bread slices to serving plates, and garnish with sauerkraut. Spread remaining 4 bread slices with Reuben Sauce, and place on top of Sandwiches.

Nutrition Information: 

45 g
Total Fat: 
15.5 g
Saturated Fat: 
6.5 g
45 g
26 mg
807 mg
2 g
6 g
Serves 4

Comments on this Recipe

Made this with tempeh and left out pickle juice. A dash of liquid smoke adds a lot of flavor but very little sodium. With the beet juice, chopped pickles and sauerkraut there is plenty of "pickled" flavors going on already.

This recipe does not indicate if the pickle juice is sweet, sour, dill?? Is the chopped pickle of the same type?

I have the same question. Anybody try this and have a suggestion?

With a reuben I have always used dill. I don't think sweet pickles would work.

I love seitan and finding new ways to use it. This sounds more than delicious! And I'd say dill pickles would be best. http://foodfitnessfreshair.wordpress.com/

I use dill pickle juice for the seitan marinade and chopped up bread and butter pickles for the thousand island dressing.

What is seitan?

I think I might try it with bread and butter pickle juice. I remember corned beef had a sweet and sour taste. Dill would just be sour. Seitan is a dense protein made from wheat gluten. There are many recipes on how to prepare it from scratch, but it takes time. You can buy mixes to cut down on the preparation or you can find it packed in water like tofu in some, larger groceries with good health food sections or stores like Whole Foods. Try it--I love it!

Is this the actual recipe that the Chicago Diner uses?

Like alot of vegetarian recipes, the sodium level on this recipe is insane. 807mg? sounds like a meatless BigMac.. Heart and Stroke Foundation is telling people 1,200-1,500mg of sodium a day is ideal... this is not a healthy sandwich, meatless or not!

One of my all-time favorites from VT.

I love the curried tofu salad i had there last summer

You might want to separate out the ingredients for the Reuben sauce (mayo, ketchup, pickles?) from the other ingredients.

I have also made reuben's with avocado and/or mushrooms instead of the corned beef. Deliciouso!!!

Why do people leave non-germane comments like, "This is not a healthy sandwich"? It was not put forward as such, was it?! The nutritional information is writ large alongside the recipe, so anyone who wants a recipe which adheres to their personal criteria of "healthy", is free to create their own without being a curmudgeon. Thank you for those of you who have actually MADE the recipe and are commenting in a constructive way upon it.

Confused about the Reuben sauce...is that the mayo, ketchup, and chopped pickles? thanks! -walt