Miss mozzarella? Try my Caprese Sandwich.
This post and easy recipe is dedicated to veg*n newbies, former mozzarella cheese lovers, and the culinarily challenged.
The Caprese Sandwich is a classic, made from just 5 basic ingredients: crusty bread, good quality olive oil, basil, cheese and tomatoes. When you think about it, fresh mozzarella cheese itself is bland, requiring a drizzle of olive oil and a healthy sprinkle of salt and pepper to bring it to life. Just like mozzarella, tofu is also bland, moist and undergoes a magical flavor transformation with the help of a few summertime staples. These sandwiches travel well and make great picnic treats. Just wrap them in aluminum foil and go!
As with all recipes, the trick to an excellent Caprese Sandwich is using only the best quality ingredients:
- Tomatoes should be either heirlooms, beefsteaks or Jersey tomatoes, and vine-ripened if possible. Avoid the anemic supermarket variety at all costs.
- Bread: Ciabatta bread is my carb of choice: semi-crusty on the outside, with soft, spongy interior that greedily soaks up all the olive oil and tomato juice. French baquettes or Italian bread are also good choices.
- Basil: Any kind of broad-leafed sweet basil will do [I grow my own in pots on my windowsill]. No dried basil, please!
- Extra-virgin olive oil: Use a fruity variety; it makes such a difference. The only extra-virgin olive oil I use is Colavita Fruttato [Make sure the label says "fruttato." They make many different varieties.]
- Tofu: Extra firm, organic if possible. No pressing required; the extra moisture here is a plus.
- Salt and pepper: If you're going all out on using best-quality ingredients, please don't stop short with the salt and pepper. Nothing beats that assertive punch of fresh ground black pepper. And freshly ground sea salt imparts a gentle, slightly minerally flavor. Kosher salt also works nicely here.
- 4 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 2 T soy sauce
- Lots of fresh ground pepper and salt
- 1 pound, extra-firm organic tofu, cut into 4 equal slabs
- 1 loaf ciabatta bread, cut into 4 pieces, and then cut in half (Or use 4 ciabatta rolls)
- 1-2 large tomatoes, slices
- About 1/3 cup whole, fresh basil leaves
Prepare the marinade: Mix oil, soy sauce and fresh ground pepper in a shallow pan. Soak the tofu in the marinade for at least an hour [preferably overnight], turning occasionally to ensure all sides soak up the marinade.
Make sandwiches: Drizzle each bread slice with about 1 tsp of olive oil. Fill sandwich with one slice of tofu, one or two slices of tomato, and basil to taste. Season with salt and pepper, and if you're in a hedonistic mood, add another drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Press together slightly and enjoy!