Radical Reubens & Vegan 1000 Island Dressing - Vegetarian Cooking Meats its Match in Chicago


Photo by Jeremy Noble — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Here at KadmusArts, we just can’t get our fix of Chicago. We’ve talked about their hotdogs, we’ve talked about their cocktails, and now it’s time to talk about their herbivores.

Chicago’s Veggie Fest is one of the biggest bashes for vegetarians in the country. A weekend full of workshops, food demos, music and children’s activities awaits festival-goers, free of charge. If you think a vegetarian festival is all nuts and toffuti, prepare to be surprised. Chicago is called “The City of Big Shoulders” for a number of reasons — and one of these is the Chicago Diner. Meat-free since 1983, they’re renowned for their manly take on vegetarian food: gut-filling chilis, organic trans fat-free cakes and three way sliders share the menu along with a giant selection of gluten-free foods.

The Chicago Diner will at the Veggie Fest serving up their notorious “Radical Reuben” sandwiches all weekend long. Voted “Best in the Midwest” by Vegetarian Times, this colossal sammy contains seitan roast ‘beef’ with grilled peppers & onions, sauerkraut, melted soy cheese, homemade vegan 1000 island dressing, and a side of sweet potatoes. (According to Jill Nussinow at The Vegetarian Resource Group, seitan is derived from the protein portion of wheat, and is “a staple food among vegetarian monks of China, Russian wheat farmers, peasants of Southeast Asia, and Mormons.” I’m not sure where Mormons fit in here, but we’ll have to ask Ms. Nussinow.)

Because all roads quite literally lead back to Chicago (at least this summer!) you might not be surprised to hear that Thousand Island Dressing was invented in The Windy City. Foodie legend has it that Sophie LaLonde invented it at the Blackstone Hotel way back in 1919, whipping up a big batch of mayo, pickle relish, chopped eggs, and chives as a more saucy alternative to the standard Russian dressing. Her brainchild of a condiment was made famous by the a regular dinner guest and actress, May Irwin, and was dubbed “Thousand Island” after the region where LaLonde grew up.

Knowing the history of Thousand Island dressing isn’t going to get you one step closer to figuring how to make it vegan, so let’s get down to business so you can properly top off your Radical Reuben with this indispensable sauce:

How to make Vegan 1000 Island Dressing:

  • 1 cup vegan mayonnaise (Vegenaise works well)
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • dash salt
  • 3 tbsp sweet pickle relish

Mash everything together until it looks like the kind of thing that you would want to put on a sandwich, and then do exactly that.

Once your Radical Reubens are assembled, here’s a list of places where you can eat them and enjoy live music outdoors, all at the same time!

- Courtney Maum

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One Response to “Radical Reubens & Vegan 1000 Island Dressing - Vegetarian Cooking Meats its Match in Chicago”

  1. Chelsea
    August 20th, 2009 10:15

    This looks amazing, I want to eat it right now (and it’s only 10am). Thanks, Courtney!

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