Barbecue sauce is one of the best flavorings for bland but friendly tofu, as you’ll see when you try these big, bold, BBQ-flavored tofu sandwiches.
This makes an easy dinner for four, so if you’re looking for more servings, simply double the recipe. The BBQ tofu in combination with the sautéed onion and pepper can be served over rice if you prefer that to bread, or even on its own!
I like to accompany this meal with fresh corn and a salad, but it’s also fantastic with a simple potato dish or sweet potato and a simple slaw.
Though I’m all in on high-quality prepared sauces to use as shortcuts, I’ve never actually found a bottled barbecue sauce that I’ve fallen in love with. It’s always something — too sweet, too salty, too smoky. So I’ve been making a version of the nearly-instant sauce given in the recipe for a long while.
That said, I’ve provided a shortcut — using a bottled BBQ sauce — for those of you who’ve found one you like.
No-Cook BBQ Sauce (or see shortcut in notes)
- 3/4 cup tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 to 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, to taste
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons barbecue seasoning (like mesquite or smoky maple)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or basil
- 14-ounce tub firm or extra-firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 bell pepper, any color, cut into short narrow strips
- 4 large soft whole-grain round or hero rolls, or 1 long baguette (see note)
- Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a mixing bowl and stir together. Set aside.
- Cut the tofu into 6 slabs crosswise. Blot well on paper towels or clean tea towels, Or better yet, use a tofu press ahead of time. Cut each slab into dice.
- Heat half of the oil in a medium skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the bell pepper and continue to sauté until the onion is golden. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover, and set aside.
- Heat the remaining oil in the same skillet. Add the tofu and sauté over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until golden on most sides.
- Meanwhile, prepare the barbecue sauce according to directions. Pour 1/2 cup of it into the skillet, and stir to coat the tofu. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the sauce reduces and gets absorbed into the tofu. Finally, pour in the remaining sauce and cook for a minute or two longer.
- Divide the tofu mixture between the bottoms of the bread you’re using and top with the onion and bell pepper mixture. Cover with the tops of the breads. Or, you can make the sandwiches open face. Either way, serve with plenty of napkins!
If you've found a brand of bottled barbecue sauce that you like, you can opt to use it instead. You'll need about a cup.
If you use a baguette, choose one that’s not too skinny, and preferably, whole grain. Cut it into 4 sections and split open.