I'm not kidding when I say this sandwich ranks as one of my all time favorites! That's why I named it The Best Italian Tofu Sandwich because it truly deserves this title. If you've been reluctant to get tofu into your healthy eating routine, then I encourage you to try this recipe! Tofu will take on the flavors of it's marinade. In this case, a fragrant blend of herbs, garlic and olive oil infuses the tofu to give that classic Mediterranean flare. It's then pan seared and topped with sweet tangy eggplant caponata, peppery arugula and served on toasted baguette bread. This sandwich is vegan and diary free and can also be made gluten-free. Let's get to it!
What is Eggplant Caponata
It's a traditional Sicilian dish made by cooking eggplant together with tomatoes, onions, olives and often times capers and raisins. It's slightly sweet, like a relish, and is often referred to as the Italian version of ratatouille. You can imagine that adding eggplant caponata to a sandwich would be super tasty!
Ingredients You'll Need
This recipe is easy and perfect for quick lunches or dinners. Here's what you'll need:
- Tofu- It's important to use extra firm tofu for this recipe so it holds up while cooking.
- Eggplant Caponata- I buy freshly made caponata at my local Italian market. You might also be able to find fresh or jarred caponata at your local supermarket. Caponata is slightly sweet, and this sweetness is one of the main flavor components of the sandwich.
- Arugula - The peppery flavor and crisp texture of arugula work so well with the tofu and caponata.
- Italian Seasonings Blend- I use a pre-made blend of seasonings. You can also use a homemade mix of oregano, basil, thyme and marjoram.
- Garlic Salt- I prefer using garlic salt over fresh in this recipe just for convenience.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil- Use a good quality oil for best flavor.
- Red Pepper Flakes- Just a mild kick of from the red pepper flakes goes so well with the sweetness of the caponata.
How To Make The Best Italian Tofu Sandwich
I know you really want to eat this sandwich, but hold on! You need to be a little patient, as the tofu takes a bit of time to prep. But once that's done the sandwich is ready in under 10 minutes! Here we go:
- Start by pressing the tofu to remove any water. I do this by wrapping the tofu on some paper towels and lightly pressing to allow the water to drain. Once you've gotten most of it out, place the tofu on a baking sheet to marinate.
- To make the marinade, whisk together seasonings and olive oil and brush over tofu. Allow to sit in the marinade for 30 minutes on the counter.
- Pan fry the tofu. It's a bit quicker than baking and I love how crispy and golden brown it gets.
- In the same pan you cooked the tofu, toast the bread. The bread will soak up any remaining bits of seasonings and oil.
- Start layering the tofu, caponata then arugula onto the toasted bread. That's it!
Why I Love Tofu
As a dietitian, I love tofu for it's many nutritional benefits, especially when compared to traditional sandwich meats. But, not many people think of using tofu in a sandwich. This recipe will hopefully change that!
Tofu is a terrific substitute for meat based dishes, especially for those trying to manage their weight or lower cholesterol levels. It's lower in calories, contains almost no cholesterol and saturated fat and is loaded with protein (½ cup = 21 gms) . It's also high in calcium, so it's great for bone health.
Tofu also contains about 3 gms of fiber per half cup. Enjoying a sandwich like this can help you meet daily fiber recommendations (around 25 gms/day).
Tofu Sandwich Substitutions and Tips
- If you can't find caponata- try roasted peppers drizzled with a bit of balsamic glaze instead!
- Don't like arugula- use any of your favorite leafy salad greens (I would avoid romaine lettuce).
- What type of bread should I use- this sandwich tastes best on rustic style baguette bread, but you could also use focaccia bread too! Yum!
- How can I store leftover tofu- store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
- Can I bake the tofu instead?- Yup! Baked tofu would work just as well, it just takes longer to get crispy.
- Can I use freshly sliced garlic?- Yes, just make sure it doesn't burn in the pan while cooking. You can remove any fresh garlic beforehand to avoid this.
- Don't have dried Italian Seasonings Blend- just mix together a ¼ teaspoon each of dried oregano, basil and thyme with rosemary or margoram or whatever you have on had.
- Make it gluten-free- Substitute gluten-free bread or enjoy it without any bread at all!
If you enjoyed this recipe you may also like my Sweet Chili Glazed Tofu.
Don't forget to let me know if you tried this recipe in the comments below or tag me on Instagram! I love hearing from you!
The Best Italian Tofu Sandwich
- 1 loaf rustic Italian bread
- 15 oz block of extra firm tofu drained and pressed * see notes above. divide in half then slice again to cut the thickness by half.
- 1.5 cups eggplant caponata store bought *see notes above
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasonings blend
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups arugula
- sea salt
- In a small bowl make the marinade by mixing together the Italian seasonings, garlic salt, red pepper flakes and olive oil.
- Place the tofu in a pie dish or baking sheet and pour the marinade over tofu marinate on the counter for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice up the bread to about the same size as the prepared tofu and set aside.
- Heat a large non stick skillet on medium-high heat and pan sear the tofu until golden brown (about 4-5 minutes per side).
- Remove the tofu and reduce the pan heat to low-medium. Add the bread facing down to toast about 2 minutes.
- Transfer toasted bread to a plate and add the seared tofu. Add a heaping spoonful or two of the caponata. Top with arugula. Sprinkle with sea salt. Enjoy!