I love baked tofu sandwiches. But one thing that has always kind of nagged at me is that the baked tofu that I remove from the oven (dark brown, crisped edges) is not the same baked tofu that I remove from the refrigerator the next day. It’s still delicious and perfect for stuffing sandwiches, adorning salads, or filling out stir-fries, but the texture has reverted back to its soft, cushy beginnings. I decided to see what I could do about that.
I started by freezing the tofu because this easy process apparently changes the texture of the tofu and makes it firmer, chewier. For added moisture reduction, I pressed the tofu prior to freezing it – then sliced it very thinly. Once it had been frozen and thawed, I gently pressed it again, just using paper towels and the pressure from my hands. The final step in creating a crispier tofu, was to broil it briefly after baking. I’m very happy with results: a bit chewy, and bit crispy, but still tender. The marinade is packed with flavor and combined with the olive salad this sandwich will do all kinds of good things to your taste buds.
A note on the bread that I made for these sandwiches. It’s a pane Siciliano from Peter Reinhart’s wonderful book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I upped the whole wheat, but otherwise stuck to his 3-day process. This loaf reminds me of the sesame seed-encrusted Italian bread from my childhood which makes perfect sense. What does muffuletta mean? Round, Sicilian sesame bread.
Muffuletta with Smoky Tofu & Olive Salad
Makes enough for several sandwiches
1 tbsp. vegetable broth
1 tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 tbsp soy sauce/tamari
3 tbsp. red miso paste
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. dried onion flakes
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
pinch ground black pepper
1 tsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
1 tbsp. water
1 16 oz. jar of Italian Mix Giardianera
1 cup Kalamata olives
1 cup green olives
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup fresh basil
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos
salt & pepper to taste
Prepare the tofu:
A day or two before making the sandwiches, freeze the tofu. Before I did this, I pressed the tofu for about a half an hour, drained it and sliced it very thinly. You can see that I got 17 slices out of it. I placed the slices on a parchment-lined half halfsheet baking pan, covered it with plastic wrap and popped it into the freezer. After a day, it got a slight yellow color which disappeared after I thawed it. Once it’s thawed, press down lightly on the tofu to extract moisture. Now you’re ready to marinate and bake.
Make the tofu marinade:
Combine all of the marinade ingredients and whisk together.
Bake the tofu:
Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment (if using parchment, remove before broiling – no one wants to see their tofu go up in flames). Brush both sides of the tofu slices with marinade. Really slather it on there. When the oven is ready, get the tofu in there and bake – taking it out now and again to baste the slices and turn them. I kept doing this until the marinade was gone and the tofu had started to brown and crisp. Because I was going for a really firm, crispy texture, I finished off the tofu by popping it under the broiler for a few minutes.
Either use the tofu immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Make the olive salad:
In a food processor, combine all of the olive salad ingredients. Process until the desired consistency. I like it evenly pulverized, but if you like bigger chunks, have at it. Set aside or store in the refrigerator until ready to use. You will have more than you need for a couple of sandwiches, but it makes a tasty spread or dip, too. You’ll think of something.