Over head shot on a open sandwich being built. You can see one slice of the bread with the white sauce (mayo + mustard) and the other slice has lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes with 2 slices of marinated smoky tofu on top. On the side, there are more tofu, a small bowl with more white sauce. Everything is displayed on parchment paper.
Main dish

Marinated Smoky Tofu Sandwich

This marinated smoky tofu sandwich will remind you of a BLT, but in a much healthier way! This recipe includes a quick and easy oil-free marinade to infuse the tofu with a deep smoky flavor. The result is a tender, caramelized and extra tasty tofu that’s perfect for your to-go lunches.

How’s everyone doing?

Thought I would check on my virtual friends as we are starting a second COVID attack wave.

I realize I try to avoid bringing up the topic of the pandemic in everything I write, even though it is clearly an invading and challenging part of our lives.

That’s probably the reason why. Maybe I just want to escape a bit while I’m sitting here, blogging and having a one way conversion with my computer. Trying to bring back my mind to a simpler and less worrisome time. Focus on something else.

And coming up with fun recipes while making a big mess in my kitchen and sharing my passion for delicious healthy food is definitively one of my favorite ways to do this.

Close up on a marinated smoky tofu sandwich. The sandwich is cut in half and pilled on top of each other. In the sandwich, you can see the tofu, sliced tomatoes and cucumber, lettuce and a white sauce. In the background, you can see more smoky tofu, cucumber and lettuce.

I have to say though that while I am COVID stuck home, I have so much more time to cook big fun meals, which is great! (hey, just trying to find something positive in all of this).

But, I do miss the satisfaction of a simple, but filling sandwich.

We are big fans of tofu scramble burrito, falafels gyros and nori rolls, but were looking for a more classic type of sandwich. Square bread type of sandwich. So here comes this flavor-packed tofu!

This tofu is clearly a new husband favorite and I am shocked every time I see our kids inhaling their tofu sandwich in a rush. And screaming for more not even halfway through.

My only advice to you is make double batch. Just to be sure.

Close up on a few slices of tofu that have been marinated and pan roasted.

How to make the marinated smoky tofu

I kept the tofu marinade recipe as simple as possible so it can be prepared within 5 minutes. You can do a quick marinade of 1-2 hours or make it in the morning and let the tofu sip on the sauce until dinner time.

Before adding your tofu to the marinade, remove the excess of water so it can absorb the marinade easier.

To do this, I like to do a quick tofu press by simply wrapping the tofu in a few layers of paper towel, then put it in between 2 plates and transfer an heavy book on top. It should be ready to go by the time you are done combining the marinade ingredients together.

To make the marinade, you will need:

  • Soy sauce (lower in sodium, if desired)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Fresh garlic
  • Maple syrup (or agave nectar)
  • Liquid smoke

Liquid smoke is one of these unique ingredients that’s hard to replace. You only need a tiny amount to get a big punch of smoky flavor. You can find it easily in most grocery stores.

This picture shows a hand holding on a slice of tofu and dipping it in a marinade in a container. There are a few more slices of tofu also marinating in the container.

Cook the tofu

Once the tofu is done marinating, transfer the slices to a large warmed up pan over medium heat leaving the extra marinade back in the container. I prefer to cook without oil, but if you are looking for a crispier tofu, then you can warm a tiny amount of oil first.

Close up on a few slices of tofu being cooked in a large pan. The tofu is brown since it was marinated first in a soy sauce mixture.

Flip the tofu with a spatula to help keep the slices intact and use a spoon to coat the tofu with some of the juice that was left in the container.

I prefer adding a tiny bit of sauce back to the tofu once in a while instead of pouring all the juice at once so it doesn’t burn. It should be cooked within 10 minutes.

Close up on a spoon drizzling some marinade on slices of tofu in a pan.

Build your marinated smoky tofu sandwich

This is where the fun begins!

My favorite way to eat this tofu is by making an adapted version of the classic Vegan BLT or TLT (tofu-lettuce-tomato). In this case, the marinated tofu replaces the smoky flavor from the bacon.

I love generously spreading dijon mustard and a little vegan mayo on the bread, then layering fresh produce. My favorites are lettuce + tomato + cucumber.

Alternative to the vegan mayo:

Other sandwich filling ideas:

  • Sliced pickles
  • Creamy coleslaw
  • Sliced red onion
  • Shaved purple cabbage
  • Spinach, arugula, sprout
Close up on a few slices of tofu that have been marinated and pan roasted.

How to store the leftovers

Wait for the last minute to built your sandwich!

But otherwise, the cooked marinated smoky tofu can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days. It is perfect to batch cook so you can make to-go sandwiches for your busy week at work.

It can be eaten cold, especially if preparing your sandwich to-go. But if you want to warm it up, simply roast the tofu once more in the pan for a few minutes on each side. If in a rush, then simply pop in the microwave for a few seconds. The tofu will be softer, but still so tasty.

Over head shot on a open sandwich being built. You can see one slice of the bread with the white sauce (mayo + mustard) and the other slice has lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes with 2 slices of marinated smoky tofu on top. On the side, there are more tofu, a small bowl with more white sauce. Everything is displayed on parchment paper.


I hope you will love this sandwich as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let us know how it was.

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Marinated Smoky Tofu Sandwich

This recipe will make you fall in love with tofu! It is super easy to make, requires a speedy marinade and yields a tender tofu that's filled with flavors. So great for sandwiches to-go!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Quick marinade1 hr
Total Time1 hr 25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Low in fat, sandwich, tofu, Vegan
Servings: 4 sandwiches
Author: plantbasedjess

Ingredients

To make the tofu

  • 454 g extra firm tofu
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce low in sodium, if desired
  • 2 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 large clove of garlic crushed

To make the sandwich

  • 8 slices of whole grain bread
  • fresh tomato sliced
  • cucumber sliced
  • lettuce
  • vegan mayo to taste
  • dijon mustard to taste

Instructions

To make the smoky tofu:

  • Do a quick tofu press: Roll the block of tofu in a few layers of paper towel or a clean hand towel, keep in between 2 plates and put an heavy book on top. Set aside.
  • To make the marinade, mix the rest of the tofu ingredients together in a large plastic bag or a large shallow container.
  • Slice the tofu in 8 equal slices (about 1/4 inch width). Then, transfer them in the marinade making sure every sides have been covered with it. Let sit for 1-2 hours, flipping the tofu once in a while. Can also be marinated overnight.
  • Warm a large pan on medium heat and cook the tofu on each side for a few minutes until browned. I like to cook without oil, but if you want a crispier tofu, then use a small amount of oil. Flip with a spatula as the tofu can break easily.

To make the sandwich:

  • Toast the bread, then layer some vegan mayo and dijon mustard, if desired. Then, add the tomato, cucumber, lettuce and 2 slices of tofu per sandwich. Cut the sandwich in half. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Store the leftover tofu in a air tight container for up to 4 days. 
  • Re-heat the tofu by roasting the slices once more in the pan until warmed up (or if in a rush, then use the microwave)
  • For a mayo-free sandwich: You can also swap the vegan mayo for unsweetened and unflavored vegan yogurt. Just mix a small amount with dijon mustard and a little salt and pepper in a bowl first to make your spread. Or use mashed avocado instead.
  • Make a bowl with the tofu instead of the sandwich: top brown rice and roasted vegetables with the tofu and drizzle the leftover marinade over.
  • Other delicious topping options include: pickles, red onion, sliced avocado, coleslaw and shaved purple cabbage.

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