The Radical Reuben Recipe + The New Chicago Diner Cookbook

The New Chicago Diner Cookbook + recipe for Radical ReubenMy first stop in Chicago tends to be to the same place – Chicago Diner. With a 31 year history and two locations, it is a mainstay of the Windy City. Their menu is loaded with cozy comfort foods, hearty breakfasts, and one of my all-time favorite sandwiches, the Radical Reuben. Loaded with chewy seitan, crisp sauerkraut, and creamy Thousand Island dressing, it ticks all of my must haves for that classic diner sandwich. (And I’m going to be sharing that recipe with you today! But more on that in just a bit…)

I was so excited when I heard that the folks at the Chicago Diner were coming out with a new cookbook with lots of color photos and enticing recipes. The New Chicago Diner Cookbook by Jo A. Kaucher with Kat Barry celebrates so much of what makes the Chicago Diner great.  (This new cookbook is completely different from the Chicago Diner Cookbook that was released in 2002.)

There are recipes for vegan proteins and fillings, brunch, entertaining, salads, dressings, and condiments, soups and sandwiches, entrees, vegetables and side dishes, and desserts. While the Chicago Diner is a vegetarian restaurant, all of the recipes in the cookbook are vegan.

Here are a few things I’ve made from the cookbook:

Creamy Pesto Dip from the New Chicago Diner CookbookCreamy Pesto Dip from the New Chicago Diner CookbookThis Creamy Cashew Pesto Dip is in the entertaining section. I served it with crackers and crudités for an easy, summer nibbly night. This spread is cashew-based and filled with mounds and mounds of fresh basil.  For 2 cups of raw cashews, you combine it with 9 ½ cups of basil. That’s a lot of basil! In the variations, they offer the idea of substituting half of the basil for spinach for a less pronounced basil flavor. For dip purposes, I will probably do that next time. However, I used the remaining spread as a sauce for hot pasta, and it was wonderfully creamy and fragrant.

Eggless Salad from the New Chicago Diner CookbookEggless Salad Wrap from the New Chicago Diner CookbookThis summer I have been gravitating towards a lot of quick, no fuss lunches. One that I’ve been coming back to again and again is eggless (tofu) salad. I usually make it with just a few ingredients – tofu, Vegenaise, and kala namak. So I was interested in trying the Chicago Diner version with this Eggless Salad Wrap.

Their version includes everything that I put in mine plus celery, parsley, green onion, dill pickles, mustard, turmeric, and sunflower seeds. I’d never added toasted sunflower seeds to a tofu salad before, and it added a wonderfully nutty crunch that I really liked. I reduced the amount of Vegenaise in the recipe by about half, because I prefer a less mayo-heavy sandwich.  It took less than ten minutes to make, and it was absolutely delicious. This will definitely be my preferred recipe from now on.

Radical Reuben - vegan reuben from the famed Chicago DinerFinally, the crème de la crème – The Radical Reuben. This was the reason I was most excited for this cookbook, and it did not disappoint. Even though veggie reubens can be made with any number of toothsome fillings like tofu, tempeh, or Portobello mushrooms, it is chewy seitan that makes a reuben irresistible to me. This is a sandwich that doesn’t need any sides. It is super filling, and it has it all – sautéed onions, bell peppers, a layer of sauerkraut, and their signature corned beef-style seitan. (The recipe also calls for vegan mozzarella, but I left that out.)

There is a recipe for seitan in the book, but it requires a stand mixer with paddle attachment, which I don’t have. So I used the white seitan recipe from Viva Vegan, which is my go-to, never fail seitan recipe. (When you make the recipe below, use your own preferred seitan with the listed marinade.)  I then marinated a pound of the seitan in the Corned “Beef” Marinade. It’s the marinade that really brings the seitan to life. With a base of pickle juice, beet juice, and seasonings, the tart, salty flavor pops. It’s the beet juice that gives the seitan its vibrant, hot pink color.  The reuben rivals the one I’ve had many times at Chicago Diner, and you don’t even have to find parking!

I am the only reuben lover in our house, and so after eating a couple of sandwiches, I froze the rest of the marinated seitan in individual portions. Bread also freezes well, and so I froze the rest of the rye bread too. This has been kind of magical, because now whenever I have a reuben emergency, I have everything at hand. I just quickly thaw the seitan in the microwave, sauté it, toast the bread, and pull out my favorite sauerkraut. I can have a reuben in less than 15 minutes. It’s a beautiful thing.

I am so excited that the folks at Agate Publishing have kindly offered for me to share the recipe for the Radical Reuben with you today! I hope you’re hungry. You are going to love this sandwich.

Radical Reuben recipe from the New Chicago Diner Cookbook - all vegan and AMAZING

The Radical Reuben

Serving Size: 4 sandwiches

The Radical Reuben is our most popular dish. It took home the Vegetarian Times Magazine Readers' Choice Award for Best Recipe in the Midwest in June 2008 and was also featured on TLC's "Best Food Ever: Darn Good Diners" show. Basically, this sandwich rocks, and now you can make it right in your own kitchen!

Ingredients

    For the Corned "Beef" Marinade:
  • 1 cup (237 mL) pickle juice
  • 3/4 cup (178 mL) beet juice (Juice from a jar of pickled beets works fine)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
  • Dash dry ground mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound seitan
  • For the Thousand Island Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup (56 g) vegan mayonnaise (Vegenaise)
  • 3 Tablespoons (45 mL) organic ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped dill pickles
  • For the Reubens:
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (75 g) sliced yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup (38 g) sliced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup (38 g) sliced green bell pepper
  • 1 1/3 cups (303 g) sauerkraut
  • 8 slices marble rye bread
  • 1 pound (454 g) Seitan Corned "Beef" (See marinade recipe above)
  • 1 cup (112 g) shredded vegan mozzarella cheese (Chicago Diner uses Daiya brand for this sandwich)

Instructions

    To make the marinade:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix all of the ingredients together until fully combined.
  2. Slice 1 pound of seitan thinly. Place it in a large, shallow baking dish. Pour the marinade over the seitan and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
  3. To make the Sauce:
  4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Set aside.
  5. To make the Reubens:
  6. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and peppers and sauté for 7 to 9 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Remove from the heat and transfer the onion and peppers to a medium covered bowl. Set aside.
  7. Place the sauerkraut in the skillet and return it to the heat. Warm it in the skillet for 5 minutes, until it is warmed through. Remove from the heat and transfer the sauerkraut to a medium bowl. Cover the bowl and set aside.
  8. Toast the bread. Place the Seitan Corned "Beef" in the skillet and return it to the heat. Warm it in the skillet for 5 to 7 minutes, until it is warmed through and a little brown on the edges. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  9. Place 4 of the toasted bread slices on a serving platter. Divide the Seitan Corned "Beef" evenly among the 4 slices.
  10. Atop each pile of Seitan Corned "Beef," layer 1/4 of the sauerkraut, the pepper-onion mix, the vegan mozzarella cheese, and the Thousand Island Sauce. Top each sandwich half with the remaining 4 slices of bread. Slice each sandwich in half and serve immediately.

Notes

Reprinted with permission from The New Chicago Diner Cookbook by Jo A. Kaucher, Agate Surrey December 2013.

http://cadryskitchen.com/2014/08/06/reuben-sandwich-chicago-diner/

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  I received this cookbook for review from Agate Publishing. The thoughts and opinions are totally my own.

An Unforgettable Evening at Modern Love in Omaha

Modern Love OmahaAs we were gearing up for my birthday weekend, David and I had a few ideas of places to go for a road trip. We talked about Kansas City or Chicago, and then a notice came up on Facebook about a preview tasting for Modern Love in Omaha. I have been eagerly awaiting the opening of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s first restaurant for months. (I’d been hoping we’d get to try it when we visited Omaha in May, but it wasn’t open yet.)

They announced that there would be two tasting nights with different 6-course menus the following week. I’d already peeked at their menu and salivated over the many enticing options. One of the evenings had everything on my must-try list.  Their whole opening week in August was already sold out with reservations, and so I knew their tasting night reservations would go quickly. I sent David a message right away, asking if he’d be up for visiting Omaha a few days after my birthday instead of taking a trip that weekend as planned. He wrote back quickly with an unequivocal yes. It was on.

Modern Love Omaha - all vegan, upscale restaurant in NebraskaI quickly purchased tickets for two and was glad that I acted fast. 24 hours later both days were sold out. I was giddy with excitement and felt the way that other people must feel about front row concert tickets. I could hardly wait to experience the menu for myself. Before we left, I seriously tried on several dresses looking for just the right one that would look nice but would also give me room to enjoy all six amazing courses. If only I had a set of fancy sweatpants! ;)

Modern Love - an all vegan restaurant in OmahaAfter several hours on the road and checking into our hotel, we got ready and made our way to Modern Love. It’s a small space that’s adjacent to a sand volleyball court. Inside, it feels intimate and upscale cool. It reminded me of New York-style restaurants, with people seated at long, almost communal tables.

I’d been watching as the restaurant came together on Facebook, and was so impressed to see it in person. The walls looked like they were covered in wallpaper, but instead they were stenciled on with paint. The two rooms are in complimentary colors and contrasting patterns.

Isa greeted us with a hug, and the host took us to our table.  They don’t have their liquor license yet, and so we brought in our own bottle of wine.

Modern Love - vegan restaurant in Omaha, NebraskaModern Love Omaha - corn milkAt our tables, the napkins were folded into hearts, and we both had to admire the sleek silverware.  Every touch felt thoughtfully planned.

The server brought cups of corn milk to start. The small metal cups of corn milk were drizzled with chili oil and lime and dotted with cilantro flowers. They tasted like summer corn on the cob in juice form. They were a refreshing start to get the palate ready for what was to come.

The rest of the menu for this tasting night was shared – one full-sized portion for two people to split.

Modern Love Omaha - squash blossom appetizerThe first appetizer was a panko crusted squash blossom, which was stuffed with edamame puree. This is one of the dishes I was most eagerly anticipating given my love for squash blossoms, and it totally lived up. The hot, savory puree was soft and creamy underneath the crisp panko crust. It was garnished with cilantro, mint, and pea shoots, which complimented the blossoms perfectly. There were also several charred patty pan squash and a zucchini slaw. It all played together so well – far from being garnish that is just for show. Every bite was a revelation.

Modern Love Omaha - hummus plateThe next appetizer was the farmer’s hummus. The lemony hummus reminded me of the hummus in Isa Does It, which is my all-time favorite hummus. It was served with roasted tomatoes and radishes, rainbow carrots, cucumbers, and house made seasoned crispy flatbread. Roasting the radishes took away some of their nose-clearing heat and made the tomatoes even sweeter.

We polished off this plate, and it was then I realized I’d made a total rookie move. I was now completely full, and we hadn’t even gotten the salad or entrees yet!

Modern Love Omaha - raspberry lemonadeWhile we waited for our next course, we received raspberry mint lemonade. Fresh raspberries were blended with a simple syrup for a sweet contrast to the tart lemonade. The leaves of mint gave it a cool finish that balanced the sugariness of the raspberries.

Modern Love Omaha - Nicoise saladDespite my increasing full-ness, I powered through with this Modern Nicoise salad. A bed of greens was dotted with heirloom tomatoes, olives, and green beans that were fresh from Isa’s garden. The green beans had been grilled and had a wonderful smoky flavor. The salad was dressed in balsamic vinaigrette and served with a hefty dollop of chickpea salad. Instead of being made with an eggless mayonnaise, the chickpea salad tasted like it was tossed with the hummus from the hummus plate, which is a great idea.

On the plate there were several deviled potatoes. The potatoes with their skins still on appeared to be boiled and then scooped out in the center. They were then filled with creamy mashed potatoes that had been seasoned with eggy kala namak. They were absolutely divine, and I definitely plan on recreating them at home sometime soon.

Modern Love Omaha - Mac & ShewsNext up, the first entrée – mac & shews. I made the mac & shews recipe on the Post Punk Kitchen blog a few months back and loved it.  At Modern Love, it was even better. The creamy macaroni was topped with pecan crusted tofu, fragrant barbecued cauliflower, house made potato chips, and braised kale.

Modern Love Omaha - seitan marsalaThe second entrée was the standout dish of the night – seitan marsala. I took one bite and then had to stop, so that I could watch David’s face as he tried it. This dish absolutely blew me away. Tender seitan tasted like it had been marinated in mushroom broth and then grilled. It was served with mouthwatering mushrooms and braised leeks atop a root vegetable mash with fresh herbs and micro greens. It was outrageously delicious. I don’t know how I will ever be able to order anything but this dish at future visits.

Modern Love Omaha - cherry pieFinally, for dessert we had a choice of options, and we went with this cherry pie with ginger ice cream. The tart-meets-sweet cherry pie had large whole cherries tucked inside of it and melded beautifully with the creamy ginger ice cream, which was dotted with candied ginger. Although I never have coffee in the evening, I made an exception and enjoyed a fragrant cup of coffee to go with the pie.  Afterwards, we chatted with Isa about the opening and she gave us some tips for places to visit before we headed out of Omaha the next day.

David and I both agreed that even though our expectations for the evening were almost insurmountably high, they were exceeded in every way. It really was one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had. Even the music playlist going on throughout the night was thoughtfully considered, including of course, the inclusion of Modern Love. Omaha should thank its lucky stars.