Build It and They Will Come: Muffuletta with Smoky Tofu & Olive Salad

  • Baked Tofu Sandwich
  • Sandwich Makings
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  • Muffalette Sandwich
  • Sliced Tofu
  • Pane Siciliano
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Muffalette SandwichI 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

Tofu Marinade:
Sliced Tofu1 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

Olive Salad:
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.

Pane SicilianoBuild your sandwich:
Grab some hearty wheat rolls or thick slices of crusty bread and start layering.  Add what you love – tomatoes, lettuce, sprouts, red onion…

Build It

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  1. trueindigo says:

    You bake it again and I will BE there! I can only imagine what bliss that olive salad bring to the sandwich. What great flavors!

  2. Gabby @ the veggie nook says:

    I am completely in awe at your ability to come up with delicious recipes like this everyday! You are an inspiration!

  3. iatelunch says:

    I want it for lunch! Now it’s settled. I’m going grocery shopping on my lunch break. I don’t have applesauce and I ate all my tofu last week. Not okay.

  4. Little Sis says:


  5. Northwest Herbivore says:

    This looks amazing, and it just so happens that I’ve been wanting to get back into the Bread Baker’s Apprentice. How much whole wheat did you use in that recipe?

    • Oh gosh…I don’t recall, but less than half the total quantity of flour. This recipe has semolina in it, too. Actually, I think what I did is I made the pre-ferment with whole wheat flour… Sorry not to be more specific!

      • Northwest Herbivore says:

        Ok, thanks. I may make it per the recipe first, and then see what I can get away with replacing.

  6. chefconnie says:

    A great way to add smoke flavor is to grind up lapsang souchong tea and use it as a dry rub. Works great with tofu and tempeh. Cheers!

  7. Rachel in Veganland says:

    GORGEOUS! Wish I could’ve been a guest for this meal! i just adore a good tofu sammie as well!

  8. elle says:

    Awesome tips on how to prepare the tofu :D

  9. 40 Fit In The Mitt says:

    I need to try liquid smoke, that looks so good!

  10. Nancy Gentry says:

    YUM! I am on a cleanse in Puerto Rico and that just looks beyond delicious!! I wish I could be eating that now.

  11. veggie4ayear says:

    *drool* Looks so yummy

  12. tearoomdelights says:

    You are so much the tofu queen, I sit in awe.

  13. toxicvegan says:

    This looks AMAZING! Baked tofu is my favourite but it never lasts long enough for leftovers :-/

  14. tinykitchenstories says:

    Another home run, my dear. I’m definitely going to try this tofu on The Husband, as he only likes it very firm. Thanks!

  15. Choc Chip Uru says:

    This burger looks insane – I could eat two or three I bet considering it has the love of my life, tofu, in it :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  16. keepinitkind says:

    If by “they will come,” you actually meant “Kristy will come,” then you were correct. I am coming to your house right now for my helping of this sandwich (I wish this was a true statement). My mouth is watering over this andwich and I love the tofu technique! I need to give it a try. Thank you!

  17. Richgail Enriquez says:

    I’m loving the tofu & olive salad. I haven’t heard of Muffuletta before but I’m very intrigued.

    • I first had a muffuletta in New Orleans (ages ago, when I still ate meat – a very meat-heavy sandwich, typically) and I always thought muffuletta had something to do w/ the olives, but I was wrong apparently! Despite my Sicilian heritage!

  18. Brittany says:

    The inside of sandwich has to be amazing (which this one is), but it’s the bread that ties it all together..and this bread looks AMAZZZINNG!! YUM!

  19. Veggiewitch says:

    Sandwich perfection! ♥

  20. Shira says:

    I’m coming over! xo! Looks amazing!

  21. Somer says:

    Oh Annie, how I needed that sandwich today! You are truly amazing!

  22. Lou says:

    Yeah! Looks like a stomping sanga (sandwich, Aussie slang there) for sure! I use that same press/freeze/press method too – I find the texture kinda creepy it’s sooooo close to meat!

  23. jenmaaninamman says:

    This looks SO amazing, which says a lot since I’m not a lover of tofu, but served this way and I’m in!

  24. Along Comes Mary says:

    This looks delicious, really should tackle baked tofu myself!:)

  25. Alessandra Zecchini says:

    Lots of great recipes here, I am actually a vegetarian, but I mostly cook vegan dinners, and lots of tofu :-). If you are interested I put my vegan recipes here

    (But my main blog is this one


  26. biggsis says:

    Thank you thank you for a great process to make baked tofu. I used to make it but we got tired of the softness / sogginess of it – although my son called it ‘sausage’ when he was a toddler. Not so funny to my super carnivorous mother… well even kind of funny to her ; ) Thanks for sharing this – the whole deal sounds fabulous!

  27. 2 Families = A Recipe for Variety | my sister's pantry says:

    [...] started with crackers and olive tapenade copped from An Unrefined Vegan.  YUM!  Descriptions / recipes below for the rest of the menu! Chicken soup Asian noodle salad [...]

  28. the bear and the blackberry says:

    HOLY GUACAMOLE! This looks delicious! And you have demystified smoky tofu for me…ahhh….I must must must try this…all of it!

  29. The Easiest Tomato Sauce EVER | my sister's pantry says:

    [...] is a dollop of anunrefinedvegan’s olive tapenade on here – even [...]

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