Allow me to confess right at the start: This is not your grandfather’s Reuben sandwich.
The legendary Reuben of yore was built on corned beef, but I swap that out in favor of smoked salmon. And while I hold fast to the classic version’s melted cheese, I lose the untoasted rye bread in favor of a grilled panini.
Un-orthodox? Guilty as charged. Scrumptious anyway? See for yourself.
Of course, the idea to begin with was — somehow — to lighten up the Reuben, a sandwich that explodes with flavor as you eat it, but then sits in your gut like a rock.
Smoked salmon has nowhere near the fat content of corned beef, but — given its high level of omega-3 fatty acids — it’s plenty rich for fish.
Indeed, it’s rich enough to cry out for some kind of acid for balance, just like corned beef. Happily, sauerkraut does the trick for both of them.
When it came time to cook this assemblage, I used extra-virgin olive oil instead of butter.
But why panini?
I just happen to think that a pressed sandwich, especially one with cheese, always tastes better than a non-pressed one, probably because of the former’s crisp crust.
If you don’t own a panini press, put the sandwich in a skillet, top it with a plate or lid, and top that with a heavyweight can of tomatoes. Voila, panini!
Smoked salmon reuben panini
1/4cup low-fat mayonnaise
2tablespoons chili sauce (the kind served with shrimp cocktail)
2tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle
1teaspoon lemon juice
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
8slices rye bread
4ounces thinly sliced Gruyere, fontina or Swiss cheese
4ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon
14 1/2-ounce can sauerkraut, drained, rinsed and gently squeezed to remove excess liquid
2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, chili sauce, pickle and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread one side of each slice of bread with some of the dressing. Arrange half of the cheese on 4 of the slices. Divide the salmon, sauerkraut and remaining cheese among the cheese-topped slices of bread and top each with one of the remaining bread slices, spread side down.
In a large skillet over medium, heat the oil until hot. Add the sandwiches and something heavy (such as a cast iron skillet, flat saucepan lid, or heat-safe plate and a weight such as a can of food) to firmly press the sandwiches down. Cook for 6 minutes per side, or until golden and the cheese has melted. Cut each sandwich in half and serve right away.
Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 510 calories; 260 calories from fat (51 percent of total calories); 29 g fat (9 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 50 mg cholesterol; 39 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 19 g protein; 1850 mg sodium.