Tempeh "Ruben" Sandwich

Tempeh Sandwich is another favourite of ours, we make this at least once a week and both my husband and I love it. The inspiration for making a sandwich with tempeh and sauerkraut like this, I got from a plant-based cafe in Charleston which we visited almost two years ago. I ordered a "Ruben Sandwich" from the meny and had no idea what to expect, but I loved it so much that I asked the chef how they make it. They were kind and told me the main ingredients and the rest I have just improvised. 



If you don't already know what tempeh is, it is fermented soybeans that are packed into bars and you can buy them in most well stocked grocery stores today. It's originates from Indonesia but is now used in many asian kitchens. Tempeh is of course very high in protein, very rich in fiber and vitamins, and has a low glycemic index since it is solely whole soybeans. But not only that, during the fermentation process healthy microorganisms cultivate, also called probiotics, which are extremely good for the microflora in out guts and colon. These live microorganisms (probiotics) strengthen our immune system, and since 70% of our immune system is to be found in our digestive tract we better take care of it well. You have probably seen that you can buy products with added probiotics, but why buy products with added probiotics when you can eat food which naturally contains probiotics?! 


Most fermented products are very good for our gut flora since they contain probiotics. Another main ingredient in this sandwich is sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage. Sauerkraut is lactic acid fermented, in the same way as pickled cucumbers and kimchi are, and they all provide our gut flora with healthy probiotics. 


If you have heard about prebiotics, don't mix it up with probiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible fiber (mainly found in fruit and vegetables) that promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the colon, i.e. prebiotics are simply "food/energy substrates" for our colon, e.g. onion, garlic and artichoke. Probiotics on the other hand are live microorganisms, and foods with probiotics already contain a certain amount of these microorganisms when we ingest them. Yoghurt is another typical and common example of a food with probiotics. 


Enough with all the nutrition information...  I think by now you will have understood this is a super sandwich for your body and particularly your gut and immun system, so let's start cooking it, it's delicious too! :) 


Ingredients for 2: 

  • 4 slices of whole grain toast

  • 2 dl (1 cup) sauerkraut

  • 1 package of tempeh (around 8oz/230g)

  • 2-4 slices vegan cheese *my favourite is Daiya Swiss Style


  • 1 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (alternatively pressed lemon)

  • 1 clove pressed garlic

  • 1 tsp maple syrup

  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika powder

  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika powder (only if you like smokey flavor!)

  • a pinch of cayenne pepper



  • 1 tbs ketchup

  • 1 tbs vegan worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tbs vegan mayonnaise



  1. Make the marinade by mixing all ingredients.

  2. Cut the tempeh bar in the middle, to two equally large bits. Then slice each bit through the middle, so you have four thinner bits in total.

  3. Leave them to soak in the marinade for a few hours, at least 30 min. Turn them around to make them all equally marinated.

  4. Make the dressing by mixing all ingredients.

  5. Stir the sauerkraut in the jar or turn it upside down a few times (it can sometimes be dry on the top and wet at the bottom).

  6. Grill the tempeh on a medium high heat for around 10 min until it get's golden brown and hot all the way through. We often use a griddle pan for this since we find the tempeh easily sticks to other pans, but any pan should work, you may just have to use some oil to not make it stick. It works really well to grill them in the oven too, just cover a oven grid with aluminium foil first to ensure the marinade doesn't start to dropp. Use the grill/broil setting on the oven. Towards the end of the grilling, add 1/2-1 slice of vegan cheese on each part (depending on how much cheese you like).

  7. Toast the bread and place one piece of bread on each plate. Once the cheese has melted place one half of the tempeh on each bread, add the dressing and half of the sauerkraut, then the second slice of tempeh and the rest of the sauerkraut and dressing.

  8. Finally top with the last piece of toast.

  9. Cut the sandwich in haft to make it easier to eat, enjoy!!


RecipesAubrey Moller