Monday, April 19, 2010

Fully Fermented Dinner: Tempeh Reuben with Fiddlehead Ferns

Tempeh Rueben with Fiddlehead Ferns I've had a small crock pot sitting on my counter for a couple of weeks filled with cut up cabbage and brine. I was tired of wasting cabbage, which I had been getting loads of from our produce shipments, so I checked out Wild Fermentation's sauerkraut recipe and decided to go for it. I'm always slightly skeptical every time I try a new food project like this. I know that fermentation isn't magic, but when the end product is going to be consumed, I like to know in advance that what I make isn't going to make me sick.

I shouldn't have worried. The sauerkraut came out excellent, and was probably the easiest thing I've ever made. A word of advice if you plan to try this: definitely keep the cabbage submerged in the brine the ENTIRE time, not just at the beginning. I used the lid for a plastic take out container (my crock pot is just too small for a saucer) with a quart jar filled with water on top. That was completely sufficient to keep the cabbage under water, and I put a napkin on top of the crock pot afterward. I almost forgot it was there for the most part, as it just sat unobtrusively on my counter top. Over the past few days, however, the aroma has been getting better and better, and I knew it was time to finally dig in and eat some.

DinnerJeff and I decided to make tempeh Reubens, after having eaten some at Red Lentil after running in a local road race a month ago. It was my first Reuben, and I loved it. Jeff prepared some sourdough from his starter, which fermented and rose all weekend. He baked two loaves this morning, one of which we used for the sandwiches. Then we went to the grocery store to pick up the stuff we don't make (yet): tempeh (fermented soy beans), ketchup and some Vegenaise for the Russian dressing. While at the store, I eyed some fiddlehead ferns and couldn't help but pick up a few to try out.

The meal was delicious and we topped it off with some of our Sauvignon Blanc, for an almost entirely fermented and homemade meal. The fiddleheads were delicious, and I regretted only buying a few ounces. Next time I'll definitely get more. They're simple to make, and apparently quite abundant in New England, so it's nice to eat a truly local food.


Tempeh Reuben
Yield: 2 servings
4 slices of bread
1 8-oz package of tempeh, sliced in half width-wise
A few heaping spoonfuls of sauerkraut
Russian dressing (see recipe below)

Assemble ingredients to your liking, enjoy!

Vegan Russian Dressing
1/4 cup Vegenaise (or vegan mayo of choice)
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tsp sweet pickle relish

Mix ingredients, store any unused dressing in the fridge.

Sautéed Fiddlehead Ferns
1/2 pound fiddlehead ferns
1 tbsp olive oil
1 quarter of a lemon

Wash the fiddleheads thoroughly until all of the dirt is gone. Sauté the ferns in the olive oil. You will know when they're done as they turn a dark green and become tender. Serve with fresh juice from a quarter wedge of lemon.


  1. Damn, that looks awesome. I've been seeing those ferns at the farmers' market here (and also while hiking), and have been meaning to try them. Now, I'm definitely going to get some next time I see them.

  2. The Tempeh Reubens at Red Lentil are delicious. I guess you'll have to serve me yours so I can compare! :)