When chef Nick Testa wanted to add a vegan plate to the bar menu at the Penrose, he went to the Reuben. Instead of seitan, which he uses on his other version of the dish, he went with beets soaked in a braise of tea and liquid smoke that provides an earthy balance to the tang of sauerkraut and richness of his chickpea-based vegan Russian dressing.
- Preheat oven to 275°F.
- In a Dutch oven, combine beets with the braising liquid: water to nearly cover beets, Liquid Smoke, tea leaves, coriander, peppercorns, salt, brown sugar, and garlic. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop. Remove from heat.
- Cover pot and braise in oven for about 25 minutes, until beets are fork-tender but still firm.
- Remove beets from braising liquid and peel while still warm. Slice beets about 3/8” thick.
- In a large bowl, make the marinade: whisk together canola oil, soy sauce, ground black pepper, coriander, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, and paprika. Add the sliced beets and toss gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate for two hours.
- In a small bowl, make the Russian dressing: Combine chickpeas, chickpea brine, ketchup, garlic confit, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and chopped pickles. Using an immersion blender, blend until nearly smooth, adding oil and xantham gum after all other ingredients are incorporated.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, sauté sliced beets until warmed through.
- Assemble the sandwiches: On toasted marble rye bread, layer 2 slices of vegan provolone cheese, ¼ cup of sauerkraut, 2 tablespoons of dressing, and 6-8 slices marinated beets. Store unused dressing, refrigerated, for up to one week.
Alicia Kennedy is a Long Island–born, Brooklyn-based food writer and recipe developer. She's an editor at Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan, and a contributor to the Village Voice.