Recipe: Where’s the corned beef? In this charred broccoli Reuben it doesn’t matter.

Sheryl Julian for The Boston Globe

Charred broccoli Reubens

By Sheryl Julian Globe Correspondent 

Charred broccoli Reuben is one of the zaniest dishes I’ve ordered in a while. I tried it at a gutsy little place, Superfine in Manchester-by-the-Sea, because it sounded so crazy. How could you remove the corned beef from this classic and replace it with every kids’ nightmare veggie? Well, it’s one fabulous sandwich.

All the other traditional elements are present: creamy Thousand Island dressing, tangy sauerkraut, melted Swiss, and buttery, toasted rye bread. Superfine co-owner Matthew Gaudet (of the former West Bridge in Cambridge) explained how to prep the broccoli. He chars blanched florets on the restaurant griddle. For home cooks, it makes more sense to do the charring very close to the broiler element (unless you don’t mind smoking up the kitchen with a hot skillet).


Spread the creamy dressing on both sides of the bread, stack it with the fermented cabbage, florets, and three thin slices of Emmental (if the sandwiches are not melty, you missed the point). Brush the outsides of the bread with butter and toast the sandwiches in a heavy skillet on both sides under a weight (a bacon press or another heavy pan). Where’s the corned beef? Doesn’t matter.

Charred broccoli Reubens

Makes 4 sandwiches

1bunch broccoli crowns
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
Salt, to taste
¾cup mayonnaise
3tablespoons ketchup
2tablespoons bottled white horseradish, or more to taste
8slices rye bread
2cups sauerkraut
12thin slices Emmental or other Swiss cheese
6tablespoons butter, melted

1. Turn on the broiler. Slide an oven shelf about 6 inches from the element. Have on hand a rimmed baking sheet. You also need 2 large, heavy skillets and 2 weights.

2. Cut the crowns into 1-inch-thick slices or the florets in half. Peel any stems on the pieces. In a saucepan fitted with a steamer insert and several inches of boiling water, steam the broccoli, covered, for 3 minutes or until bright green and just tender.

3. Lift the florets from the pan and spread them on the baking sheet. Pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt. With your hands, toss the spears so they are oiled all over. Spread them in a single layer. Broil the spears for 2 minutes, use tongs to turn them, and broil 2 minutes more, or until they are lightly charred at the edges.


4. For the Thousand Island dressing: In a bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, ketchup, and horseradish. Taste for seasoning and add more horseradish, if you like.

5. Lay the bread in pairs on the counter. Spread dressing on all the slices. Working with 4 slices, begin the layers: add sauerkraut, 2 slices of cheese, broccoli, and 1 more slice of cheese. Close each sandwich with a top and brush the tops with butter.

6. Heat the skillets for a few minutes over medium heat. Carefully turn the sandwiches so they’re buttered sides down in the skillet. Add a weight to the top and cook 3 minutes, or until browned on the bottom. Brush the top sides with butter and carefully turn them over. Add a weight to the top and cook 3 minutes more, or until browned on the bottom and the cheese is oozing at the edges.

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