Vegan Pastrami on Homemade Rye (Now Open: Kelly's Jewish Deli!)

When a craving calls: feed it! This pile of pastrami-look-alike would fool even your most dedicated deli devotee. I took on the sacred and created what I believe is the MOST incredible pastrami sammich eatin' this side of Brooklyn (made vegan, of course!). We loved, I mean LOVED this dinner last night. How pray tell did this come to pass? Well, I personally think it started with our house smelling like a Jewish Deli for at least a week when I began my pickle experimentation (not once, but twice) because if you read my last post you know darn good and well that I totally had a canning meltdown after slaving over the hot steam canning process trying to create pickles from my "regular old cukes" which I had coming out the you know what! And which turned out to taste like "pickled ick". Okay. Live and learn. Never one to be out done by failure, I re-pickled again this weekend using pickling cucumbers. Like manna from heaven--these second round babies are keepers.
Lunch today! Like an hour ago--mmmm, mmmm good! With, of course, a homemade pickle on the side, piled with a ton of stone ground mustard, some sliced onion and my totally amazing fresh rye bread (from the bread machine) because who in their right mind is turning on an oven when it's 100 degrees outside? (Well I might because I have a jones for cake really bad right now. . .stay tuned!)
So I had this dill or was it fennel plant that sort of "let itself go." I decided I'd let it go--to seed, that is. I have some other dill that is so chipper and yellow--I think I could make some money off it if I took it to a farmer's market because the woman at my local market asked if I had dill at home when I bought my pickling cucumbers and I said, "Only a ton." She was like, "Oh, I have people coming in daily looking for fresh dill for pickling right now!" Well, too bad. This dill stays here, and succombs to my many failed pickling experiments.

Enter mortar and pestle. For rye bread recipe we have: fresh dill seed, poppy seeds and celery seeds, all being pestled to death here. The aroma was heavenly!
And then here you have me cooking the seitan I made, then marinated in caper brine! A-ha! (I had an a-ha moment last night!) I thought, How does one get that sort of prickly, briney taste pastrami is known world over for having anyhow? Well, with brine of course! (Okay, let me come clean here--I read somewhere that someone once said they used pickle juice to make pastrami. . . again with the pickles, I know, I know.)
This took the pastrami dream to a whole new level, let me tell you!
So there you have it--basically what I felt was a really good trip around my kitchen to come up with a really good savory substitute for what my little taste buds desired: pastrami on rye. My only wish here is that I could have sliced that seitan into uber slim slices. I tried my mandolin on day two with the seitan, but no such luck. That's okay. I was cool with knife-sliced pieces. This is why I love my blog--because of moments like this. When I say to Mr. Thyme, "Tell me what you think" and he can't stop eating long enough to say, Nom, Nom . . . good!--then I know I MUST share with my peeps. Or peep--maybe only one person will read this. That's okay by me. For all who care--I am documenting what we eat mostly for a selfish reason: When I end up in one of those "places where old folks go"--my blog goes with me--and so do all of my recipes which I will demand they recreate for me daily!

A few words about making your own seitan: Do it. Buy a couple of boxes of the plain vital wheat gluten and keep them on hand for those moments when the carnivore memories creep in. Usually you will find I use "pre-cooked blue box kind from Whole Foods" but seriously folks, there is no reason NOT to make your own gosh darn seitan. (If you don't believe me--go look at this blog: seitan is my motor. You WILL be inspired, trust me.) Mihl knows how to cook AND bake! She inspired me to try my hand at pastrami after seeing her post for a recipe for "grilling" seitan. OMG! The post she had that turned my head toward my own pastrami seitan was for Ajvar, Patties and Chickpeas. She used a recipe for steamed white seitan from Terry Hope Romero's newest cookbook: Viva Vegan and showcased her seitan creation with grill marks no less! (I highly recommend both this blog and this cookbook!) So much flavor happenings, so many great recipes, so much inspiration.

Anyway, here I was craving a pastrami sammich, then find Mihl's post, then have my pastrami moment. The world was truly a happy place! Before jumping out of my seat, I had to make sure I had vital wheat gluten on hand--boy was I happy to find I did have a box on hand to work with!

I whipped this up in nano-minutes and it was truly worth the little time and effort it took to create. I will offer you the brand of vital wheat gluten that I used: Arrowhead Mills. The recipe for seitan from scratch is on the box. One method says you can immerse the mix (which is just water and vital wheat gluten) and boil it in veggie broth OR you can cook it in a pressure cooker! Which--as you might have guessed because of my "pressure cooker love fest" I showcased in my last post, I opted to try the pressure cooker method. It worked fine! I had nice, firm seitan! I added to my seitan mixture the following ingredients--and you truly do have a lot of latitude when it comes to these "additional" ingredients--so play with it and make it your own: 
-3 tablespoons sundried tomatoes (ground up into a powder in my Vitamixer)
-2 tablepsoons nutritional yeast (for that extra yum factor vegans all over love!)
-2 garlic cloves minced
-1 teaspoon dried chili powder
-1 tablespoon Braggs Liquid Aminos
-1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
-2 teaspoons dried paprika
-1 teaspoon dried onion powder
*After seitan mixture has pressure cooked, or boiled in veggie broth, allow it to set for about 30 minutes to an hour to firm up some more. I then sliced my seitan as thin as I could for my "pastrami" slices. Next, I sauteed the sliced seitan with one sliced onion in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. After the seitan began to brown a bit around the edges, I added two tablespoons of capers, plus about a tablespoon of caper broth. This is what took the flavor to that pastrami level I was talking about! It was incredible! After a day in the fridge when I took the seitan out to have for lunch--it was even better! 

Here is a link with a ton of rye bread recipes--several of the rye recipes have bread machine directions. I would say that this one is one I'd recommend because it looks an awful lot like the recipe from Beth Hensperger's recipe for Herb Light Rye Bread that I used. I added the ground up seeds to my rye bread as you see in my photo above (Beth directed to do this in her cookbook, The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook)--which is where my rye bread recipe came from. If you are not into making your own rye bread, I guess some store bought, additive and preservative-laden type will do--but you will be missing out, I'm telling you!


  1. yum! that sandwich looks really really good!

  2. I want to end up in that old folks' home with you if you're going to find one that cooks your recipes! Delicious!!

  3. caper brine - how clever! i've been using capers in a few things lately, and totally have tons of brine for something like this. drooling...

  4. I'm inspired...I need to make my own seitan (I've been wanting to for months).

  5. You've inspired me too! Despite my seitan-loving ways, I've never made it from scratch. I'm putting this sandwich on my to-do list immediately!

  6. Hi Y'all! Thanks so much for the comments!
    Jacklyn! Many thanks for the note!

    Bonnie! Okay girl, come join me when I'm ninety!

    Miss V! I cannot take credit for the brine idea--but know I absolutely read it somewhere. My "almost fifty" mind forgets!

    Monet! Oh, it is so worthwhile to make it yourself. I don't know why it's taken me so long to try--but so glad we did!

    Laura! Thanks! This is something I just know you and your hubby will love!

  7. Rye bread is my absolute FAVORITE. Love love love it. And you are so funny - I have never met a vegan who craves pastrami sandwiches! lol.


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