The Protein Flip: How Case Western’s Plant-Forward Reuben Won Avid Fans

Executive Chef Tony Smoody’s sandwich skips the Swiss cheese and replaces the corned beef with portobello mushroom in this plant-forward take on the popular Reuben

What’s the best way to entice meat eaters to venture into the world of plants? Here’s one approach: Reimagine a well known dish as a plant-based version, give it a catchy name, and promote it in a variety of high visibility areas.

Tony leading a cooking demo showing how to make his flavor-packed Shrooben

That’s what Executive Chef Tony Smoody of Case Western Reserve University’s Michelson and Morley Restaurant did in Cleveland. He named his vegan protein flip of the Reuben sandwich a “Shrooben” and leveraged a flavor profile familiar to guests while ditching the beef in favor of a plant forward alternative. Made with pickle-spiced portobello mushrooms, the Shrooben also features fresh beet kraut and a spicy tofu aioli, served between slices of local rye bread. Guests got the same flavors, textures, and overall food experience of a Reuben in a more sustainable and nutrient packed form.

In addition to being added to the seasonal menu offerings, the sandwich was also cross-promoted at a recent cooking demonstration the Bon Appétit team conducted in partnership with Case Western’s on-campus exercise gurus, One to One Fitness. Thanks to strong demand for unique, sustainable, vegetable-centric foods, the Shrooben was a hit in the cooking demo. In fact, vegan food has a strong track record (stronger than meat options!) when featured at the cooking demos.

“Everyone I spoke with absolutely loved today’s demo and was raving about the food,” said the One to One Fitness event coordinator afterward. “Hats off to Chef Smoody for the meal!”



Want to recreate the sandwich? Here is Tony’s recipe, which makes one Shrooben, with plenty of kraut and aioli left over for additional sandwiches.

1 portobello mushroom cap, sliced on the bias
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon pickling spices
Salt and pepper

Sauté mushroom in olive oil for about 2 minutes, until golden. Add garlic and pickling spices, season with salt and pepper, and sauté 1 minute longer. Set aside.

1 small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
2 medium beets, peeled and julienned
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups white vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until cabbage begins to soften, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

12 ounces extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sriracha or any hot sauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.

2 slices rye bread

Lightly toast or grill bread. Assemble sandwich by placing portobello slices on one piece of bread. Top with beet kraut and tofu aioli. Top with remaining bread slice, cut in half, and serve.

Submitted by Terri Brownlee, Director of Nutrition and Wellness