Kid-friendly Tasty Toasted Portobello Reuben Sammies Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Tasty Toasted Portobello Reuben Sammies

Recipe: Tasty Toasted Portobello Reuben Sammies

Tasty Toasted Portobello Reuben Sammies

by Erin Fletter
Photo by spicyPXL/
prep time
15 minutes
cook time
15 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Tasty Toasted Portobello Reuben Sammies

There are lots of claims to the Reuben Sandwich origin. My favorite story involves two best friends, a weekly poker players' club, and a hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. One of the card players created a sandwich for his friend and named it after him. The hotel put it on their lunch menu, and the sandwich became a national sensation. If your best friend created a sandwich for you, named after you, what would it include? Mine would be "The Veggie Gone A-Rye!"

Kids will have a LOT to do making this recipe: They'll be shredding cabbage, quick-pickling that cabbage, grating cucumber, mixing up a Thousand Isle Dressing, cleaning mushrooms, and blending up a DELICIOUS vanilla shake (with the cucumber!). You can serve the sandwiches open-faced or not—it's up to you and your kids. Depending on the size of your skillet, it may be easier to make them open-faced. Also, when you make your 1,000 Isle Dressing, if you have time, use the opportunity to let kids have a say in how much of each ingredient to add. For the base, use one part ketchup to one part mayonnaise and go from there. Kids want to contribute, and they'll love to make this dressing their own. They might also love to come up with sandwich ideas for themselves or their friends after they read the history of the Reuben!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • pickle :

    to preserve or flavor a food by covering it with a salty and/or sweet liquid brine.

  • sauté :

    to cook or brown food in a pan containing a small quantity of butter, oil, or other fat.

  • slice :

    to cut into thin pieces using a sawing motion with your knife.

  • toast :

    to brown and crisp food in a heated skillet or oven, or in a toaster.

  • whip :

    to beat food with a whisk or mixer to incorporate air and produce volume.

Equipment Checklist

  • Skillet
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Mixing bowl
  • Liquid measuring cup


Tasty Toasted Portobello Reuben Sammies

  • 3 large portobello mushrooms (or 3/4 lb baby portobellos)
  • 1/4 C olive oil + more for cooking
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 loaf rye bread **(for GLUTEN/WHEAT ALLERGY sub gluten-free bread)** (Use 1 slice per open-faced sammie or 2 slices for closed.)
  • 1 slice Swiss cheese for each sammie **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub Daiya Swiss Style Slices)**

Food Allergen Substitutions

Tasty Toasted Portobello Reuben Sammies

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free bread for rye bread. 
  • Dairy: Substitute Daiya Swiss Style Slices for Swiss cheese.


Tasty Toasted Portobello Reuben Sammies

rinse + twist + scrape + slice

Rinse loose the dirt from 3 portobello mushrooms. Twist off their stems and discard. Scrape the gills from underneath each mushroom cap with hands or spoon and discard. Then slice the mushroom caps into 1/2 inch slices. Add the mushroom slices to a mixing bowl.

drizzle + mix + sauté

Drizzle mushroom caps with 1/4 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Stir to mix, then sauté in skillet over low heat until mushrooms are tender and brown in spots. Transfer sautéed mushrooms to the bowl.

drizzle + toast + melt

Drizzle skillet with more olive oil, then add sliced rye bread (you could also use a toaster oven!). For each sammie, layer on some of the sautéed mushrooms and 1 slice of Swiss cheese on a slice of rye bread. Cover the skillet and toast until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden brown. If desired, top each toast slice with Quick-Pickled Cabbage (see recipe) and let it warm through. Finish by spreading Whipped 1,000 Isle Dip (see recipe) on each sandwich. Eat Sammies open-faced or closed!

Surprise Ingredient: Portobello Mushrooms!

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Photo by Shutterstock

Hi! I'm Toady! I'm a Portobello mushroom!

“Which means I'm very mature for my age, and I'm also a fun guy! Get it? Fun guy—fungi? I'm good in salads, sandwiches, soups, stews, on pizza, with pasta, and stuffed with other yummy foods. Plus, you can cook and use me in recipes just like you would meat!"


  • Portobello mushrooms are native to Italy and have been grown since ancient times. Alternative names are "portabello" and "portabella." 
  • The first mushrooms were thought to be cultivated in Southeast Asia, but it is not known why for sure. Perhaps someone discovered that mushrooms grew by accident and sought out a growing method.
  • All mushrooms are fungi, but not all fungi are mushrooms! There are an estimated 1.5 to 2 million species of fungi on planet Earth, of which only 80,000 have been properly identified. There are over 250 kinds of mushrooms that people eat.
  • Mushrooms are a kind of fungus that look like umbrellas! They grow in places like yards, forests, fields, and gardens. 
  • What is a fungus? It's a kind of living organism that is different from plants. In fact, mushrooms are more like humans than plants! 
  • Fungi walls are made of a fibrous substance called "chitin," rather than cellulose, like plants. Also, plants produce their own energy from the sun from photosynthesis, but mushrooms and other fungi don't need the sun for energy!
  • Many fungi eat by breaking down dead plants. However, other fungi feast on dead animals, bird droppings, manure, wallpaper paste, fruit, and living animals. So fungi are like nature's cleanup crew!
  • The yeast that makes bread rise is a type of fungi.
  • Mushrooms are sometimes called Toadstools! Can you picture a toad sitting on top of a giant mushroom?
  • Some mushrooms are good to eat, like portobellos, crimini, and shiitakes, while others are extremely poisonous. Never eat a mushroom you find growing outside unless you are with a mushroom expert!
  • The Honey Mushroom in the Blue Mountains of Oregon is the world's largest living thing. It is actually a mushroom colony and is believed to be at least 2,000 years old! It covers almost four square miles!
  • Some mushrooms live entirely underwater.
  • In the Amazon rainforest, mushrooms release spores into the air, which creates the surface for water to condense and can trigger rain. The rain then causes more fungi to grow.
  • Before the invention of colorful synthetic dyes, people used mushrooms for dyeing wool and other natural fibers.
  • Greek warriors ate mushrooms to increase their strength before battle.
  • Mushrooms are one of the vegetable world's substitutes for meat. 

Anatomy & Etymology

  • The largest mushroom you'll find in most grocery stores is the portobello. It is the fully grown version of the Agaricus Bisporus species and has a large, brown cap. Smaller, immature mushrooms may be brown, like the cremini, or white, like the button.    
  • The head of the portobello mushroom is called its cap, which is smooth, firm, thick, and spongy in texture. Turn the cap over to find dark brown or black gills surrounding a white and fibrous stem. 
  • Mushrooms contain more than 90 percent water!
  • Some mushrooms glow in the dark! They produce light through a process called bioluminescence. People used to carry these in ancient times to light their way through the forest. 
  • Mushrooms can grow super fast. Once they break through the surface of whatever they're growing on, they can double their size in just one day.
  • The Italian word "portobello" literally means "beautiful port" in English, and "portabella" means "beautiful door." It may have been an alteration of the Italian "prataiolo," which means something grown in a meadow. Still, it is widely believed the pleasant name was a marketing tool in the 1980s to sell more of the unfamiliar, large, mature mushrooms! 

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Wild mushrooms can be found in many wooded areas. If you choose to harvest wild mushrooms, make certain you have a professional identify your pick. Many mushrooms may resemble safe mushrooms but are actually poisonous!
  • Buy mushrooms with whole, intact caps, and be sure they are not wet or slimy!
  • They will smell strong, sweet, and earthy when fresh. 
  • Rinse mushrooms before you slice or cut them. Whole mushrooms won't absorb much water, while cut mushrooms will. Wait to rinse mushrooms until right before you cook them; otherwise, they'll turn slimy.
  • Cooked portobello mushrooms taste earthy, smoky, and hearty. When cooked, they are very tender and meaty.
  • The mushroom cap is most often the part that is cooked and eaten. The stem can be fibrous and woody but will add flavor to vegetable or meat stock.
  • Mushrooms can be broiled, sautéed, and grilled. Portobello caps are large enough to eat like a hamburger on a bun!
  • Portobello mushrooms pair well with balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs (like oregano, rosemary, thyme, and cilantro), marinara, spinach, leafy greens, tomatoes, goat cheese, mozzarella, cream-based sauces, garlic, and onions.
  • Store mushrooms in a partially closed resealable plastic bag to ensure air circulation without drying out the mushrooms.


  • Mushrooms are low in calories and are an excellent source of B vitamins. These vitamins are needed for healthy cell and brain function, and they help prevent cancer and stress.
  • Even though mushrooms don't use the sun for energy, they use it to produce vitamin D, just like humans do! Vitamin D is essential to our bones! It keeps them strong and regenerating. 
  • Mushrooms have essential minerals such as selenium, copper, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium. Copper helps the body build red blood cells and is necessary for the health of our bones. Selenium is an antioxidant that may decrease cancer risk. 
  • Mushrooms have been used successfully in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat many health conditions. Western medicine is finally beginning to recognize and utilize some of the medicine mushrooms naturally contain.


History of the Reuben Sandwich!

Photo by gkrphoto/
  • There are many origin stories for the Reuben sandwich! Many people have claimed to be the inventors of this legendary sandwich, including a man named Reuben, who owned a restaurant and created the sandwich one night for Charlie Chaplin’s (hungry!) leading lady.
  • Another story says that Bernard Schimmel made the sandwich for his friend Reuben Kulakosky. Reuben was of Jewish-Lithuanian origin, and both Reuben and Bernard were part of a weekly poker group at a hotel in Omaha, Nebraska, called The Blackstone. The hotel eventually put the sandwich on their lunch menu, and it started to gain fame. 
  • If your best friend created a sandwich for you, what would be on it?
  • Whatever the true origin, the Reuben has been such a favorite American sandwich that March 14th is now known as National Reuben Sandwich Day!
  • A traditional Reuben is made with two slices of grilled rye bread with layers of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and tangy Thousand Island dressing in the middle. It is often toasted or grilled and served warm.

Let's Learn About the United States!

Photo by JeniFoto/ (July 4th Picnic)
  • Most of the United States of America (USA) is in North America. It shares its northern border with Canada and its southern border with Mexico. It consists of 50 states, 1 federal district, 5 territories, 9 Minor Outlying Islands, and 326 Indian reservations. 
  • The country's total area is 3,796,742 square miles, globally the third largest after Russia and Canada. The US population is over 333 million, making it the third most populous country in the world, after China and India.
  • The United States of America declared itself an independent nation from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, by issuing the Declaration of Independence.
  • The Revolutionary War between the US and Great Britain was fought from 1775-1783. We only had 13 colonies at that time! On September 9, 1976, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and declared that the new nation would be called the United States. 
  • The 13 colonies became states after each ratified the constitution of the new United States, with Delaware being the first on December 7, 1787.  
  • The 13 stripes on the US flag represent those first 13 colonies, and the 50 stars represent our 50 states. The red color of the flag symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes innocence and purity, and blue symbolizes vigilance and justice.
  • Before settling in Washington DC, a federal district, the nation's capital resided in New York City and then Philadelphia for a short time. New York City is the largest city in the US and is considered its financial center. 
  • The US does not have a recognized official language! However, English is effectively the national language. 
  • The American dollar is the national currency. The nickname for a dollar, "buck," comes from colonial times when people traded goods for buckskins!
  • Because the United States is so large, there is a wide variety of climates and types of geography. The Mississippi/Missouri River, running primarily north to south, is the fourth-longest river system in the world. On the east side of the Mississippi are the Appalachian Mountains, the Adirondack Mountains, and the East Coast, next to the Atlantic Ocean. 
  • On the west side of the Mississippi are the flat Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains (or Rockies), and the West Coast, next to the Pacific Ocean, with several more mountain ranges in coastal states, such as the Sierras and the Cascades. Between the coasts and the north and south borders are several forests, lakes (including the Great Lakes), rivers, swamps, deserts, and volcanos. 
  • Several animals are unique to the US, such as the American bison (or American buffalo), the bald eagle, the California condor, the American black bear, the groundhog, the American alligator, and the pronghorn (or American antelope). 
  • The US has 63 national parks. The Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, and the Grand Canyon, with the Colorado River flowing through it, are among the most well-known and visited.
  • Cuisine in the US was influenced early on by the indigenous people of North America who lived there before Europeans arrived. They introduced beans, corn, potatoes, squash, berries, fish, turkey, venison, dried meats, and more to the new settlers. Other influences include the widely varied foods and dishes of enslaved people from Africa and immigrants from Asia, Europe, Central and South America, and the Pacific Islands. 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in the United States?

  • Education is compulsory in the US, and kids may go to a public or private school or be home-schooled. Most schools do not require students to wear uniforms, but some private schools do. The school year runs from mid-August or the beginning of September to the end of May or the middle of June.
  • Kids generally start school at about five years old in kindergarten or earlier in preschool and continue through 12th grade in high school. After that, many go on to university, community college, or technical school. 
  • Spanish, French, and German are the most popular foreign languages kids learn in US schools. 
  • Kids may participate in many different school and after-school sports, including baseball, soccer, American football, basketball, volleyball, tennis, swimming, and track and field. In grade school, kids may join in playground games like hopscotch, four-square, kickball, tetherball, jump rope, or tag.
  • There are several fun activities that American kids enjoy doing with their friends and families, such as picnicking, hiking, going to the beach or swimming, or going to children's and natural history museums, zoos and wild animal parks, amusement parks, water parks, state parks, or national parks. Popular amusement parks include Disneyland, Disney World, Legoland, Six Flags, and Universal Studios.
  • On Independence Day or the 4th of July, kids enjoy a day off from school, picnicking, and watching fireworks with their families. 
  • Thanksgiving is celebrated on the last Thursday in November when students get 2 to 5 days off school. Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are popular December holidays, and there are 2 or 3 weeks of winter vacation. Easter is celebrated in March, April, or May, and kids enjoy a week of spring recess around that time.  
  • Barbecued hot dogs or hamburgers, watermelon, apple pie, and ice cream are popular kid foods for 4th of July celebrations. Turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie are traditional Thanksgiving foods. Birthday parties with cake and ice cream are very important celebrations for kids in the United States!

The Yolk's On You

Did you hear the joke about the fungus? 

I could tell it to you, but it might need time to grow on you.

That's Berry Funny

Why did the Mushroom get invited to all the parties? 

Because he's a fungi! (fun guy)

That's Berry Funny

Why did the Fungi leave the party? 

There wasn't mushroom to dance!

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