Sauerkraut is a simple fermented food that offers a wealth of health benefits. Essentially lacto-fermented cabbage, sauerkraut is packed with probiotics that boost beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can aid digestion and improve immune function. Although the probiotic properties are most beneficial in raw sauerkraut, the dish can also be served cooked as a tasty addition to pizzas or sandwiches and of course, as an accompaniment to sausage or ribs.
Put It on a Pizza
Sauerkraut may seem like an unusual pizza topping, but it's quite delicious when paired with other pizza toppers such as sliced sausage, Canadian bacon or even pineapple. Top a homemade or premade pizza crust with your favorite tomato-based pizza sauce. Add well-drained sauerkraut liberally atop the sauce. Using a fork to scoop the sauerkraut from a jar helps avoid adding liquid to the top of the pizza, which could make it soggy. Pair the sauerkraut with slices of Canadian bacon, bratwurst, or kielbasa, or keep it vegetarian by adding banana pepper rings and pineapple. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake according to the recipe or crust package's directions.
Sauerkrautify a Sandwich
Sauerkraut also serves as a tangy, healthy add-in to a sandwich. Make a classic reuben by spreading Russian or Thousand Island dressing on two slices of rye bread, then layering one slice of the bread with a stack of quality corned beef. Top the corned beef with sauerkraut a slice of Swiss cheese and the other slice of bread, and then toast in a sandwich press, toaster oven or skillet. Substitute pastrami or even sliced turkey for the corned beef for a slight variation.
Try something completely different — and vegetarian — by lightly toasting two slices of pumpernickel bread, then coating one side of each with a roasted garlic hummus. Add slices of avocado, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers and sauerkraut to one of the slices, and then top the sandwich with the remaining slice of bread. Enjoy the sandwich at room temperature, or bake it at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for six to 10 minutes, if desired.
On the Stove or in the Crock-Pot
Sauerkraut and sausage are perhaps the perfect pairing, with numerous ways to enjoy their savory flavor combination. Melt butter in a skillet, and then add sliced onions and sautee until they're nearly translucent. Add sauerkraut and diced apples, cooking until the apples start to soften. Grill your favorite type of sausage and serve it as a main course, along with the sauerkraut, or put the sausages on buns and enjoy them with spicy mustard and some of the sauerkraut on top and as well as a side dish.
Opt for a slow cooker to whip up a dish that practically prepares itself. Add five or six sliced potatoes to a slow cooker, along with 16 ounces or so of sauerkraut. Season with caraway seeds and black pepper. Add one cup water, then one pound of sliced Polish sausage, bratwurst or smoked sausage. Or, instead of sausage, substitute pork ribs. Cover and cook on low for six hours or on high for four hours.
- Buy sauerkraut that has been fermented in salt, not vinegar.
- Make your own sauerkraut for the freshest product.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, Kroger, SFGate and others.