Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella is such a fine classic sandwich combination, that it's hard to improve upon it...unless you have to.
My favorite knife and I co-conspired on how to give this International Sandwich Superstar a reinvention.
I always wondered how it would work with Extra Firm Tofu as the protein. Same role, but lighter than cheese. Similar texture and look, but with a semi-sear in a wicked hot pan, a brush of olive oil, and some Tofu Spice to give it a more toothsome bite and decadent flavor.
Did I actually pull out a label maker for my tofu seasoning? Yes, I went there....and it was Good.
I found a Gorgeous Looker in the heap of winter tomatoes, pulsed out a quick Pumpkinseed Basil Pesto, and clutched my panini roll from the Whole Foods bakery, ready to grill.
Four Square: Tofu-Tomato-Basil-Pesto
1/3 of a tofu block, extra firm, sliced lengthwise
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Tofu Spice (grind peppercorns, sea salt, coriander, fennel - for the full recipe, look in Horizons: New Vegan Cuisine)
1 tbsp pesto
2-3 thick tomato slices
Handful of basil
1 focaccia roll
Quick Pumpkinseed Basil Pesto: Pulse 1/4 cup pumpkinseeds in food processor. Slowly add 2 tbsps of olive oil, 2 tbsps of water, salt, pepper, 1 clove of garlic, half a lemon, a generous bunch of basil and puree until you have a thick paste.
Brush your tofu block with olive oil and coat liberally with Tofu Spice. Heat the remainder of oil in a grill pan over high heat for one minute. Add your tofu and cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Normally I would cook 5 minutes on each side for a full pan sear, but for this sandwich I like to the keep the tofu softer and more mozzarella-like.
Meanwhile, layer pesto, tomato, and basil on your roll. Add the seared tofu and grill for an additional 2 minutes on each side, pressing it down with a heavier pan.
I love this crusty, juicy, vibrant sandwich...if you ever have leftover tofu water-bathing in the fridge, this is an easy way to use it. Try to find some lively tomatoes and do not skimp on the salt, pepper, and oil.
And my homemade basil is going over some noodles soon...