Vegetarian Tuna Panini Recipe

Day 17.

Tuna is a substitute that, at least to my knowledge, you have to make on your own. There are no tuna substitutes in the store that I’m aware of. So, depending on what the type of tuna is, you use different things and techniques. I’m using tofu “steaks” here done tuna-style, though you could mix it all up and do a tuna salad panini if you prefer.

Tuna Panini
3 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed (optional)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 slices “bacon,” cooked and crumbled (I used my bacon substitute of 1/2 C mushrooms marinated in olive oil, pepper and bacon salt, baked at 375F until crispy…about 10 minutes)
1 container tofu, baked tuna style (recipe follows)
8 slices sourdough bread
4 slices provolone cheese

Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Place 4 bread slices on flat surface; top with 1 cheese slice. Divide “tuna” evenly among slices. Spread mayo mixture on second bread slice. Top each serving with that bread slice.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat sandwiches with cooking spray. Place sandwiches in pan and top with another heavy skillet. Cook 3 minutes per side or until lightly browned.

Yields 4 servings.
Adapted from Tuna Panini recipe in January/February 2010 issue of Cooking Light.

Tuna-style Baked Tofu
1 block firm or extra-firm tofu, well pressed and cut into four equal slices
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Mix marinade ingredients and transfer marinade to ziploc bag and add tofu. Allow to marinate overnight or at least 4 hours. Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through and basting with extra marinade.

The Results
Win! This is seriously good. I actually forgot the “bacon” on my first sandwich. I added it to the second, and that was delicious, too. But it didn’t even need it. This is so good and so easy. I used my stove-top grill plate and a saute pan to “panini” grill the sandwiches. It worked fantastically. I love this sandwich. My favorite way to do baked tofu is a sesame-soy blend, but this lemon-basil style is really good on this sandwich. I may do that style more often.

This post is linked at Made by you MondayMeatless MondaysHomemaker MondayMy Meatless MondayMouthwatering MondaysHappy Homemaker MondayMenu Inspiration MondayJust Another Meatless MondayDelectable TuesdayTuesdays at the TableHearth and SoulTasty TuesdaysWatch my Weight WednesdayGold Star Wednesday and Ultimate Recipe Swap.

Due to spam, I've decided to close comments on posts older than 14 days.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. I'm an affiliate with If you use Amazon and would like to help me earn a little money to enable me to keep providing you excellent content, click this link for my favorite Julienne Peeler. You do not have to buy the item, but I'll receive a very small commission on anything you buy on Amazon within 24 hours. Thank you for your support!


  1. 21st Century Housewi says

    This sounds delicious! I'm always looking for ideas for vegetarian sandwiches – they can be hard to find!

  2. forkedpgh says

    It's not super easy to find, but some health stores sell kelp powder, which is great to use in mock fish recipes. Adding that to the marinade will make your faux tuna even fishier.Great recipe!

  3. sugarswings says

    Sounds yum!!! I love tofu but the hubby can leave it. Will have to try this one! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Kristi says

    It is super tasty, thanks everyone for the "yum"s. Forkedpgh—that's a great tip, will have to try that sometime. I know I've read that before somewhere. I think it was in a "shrimp" recipe. Sugarswings—my hubby is not a tofu fan either. But baked is the one way he says it is "OK." He hasn't tried these paninis yet (he had a meat one instead), but I think he'd like it if he did. The texture of baked tofu is totally different and that's my husband's issue with it. After all, it pretty much takes on the taste of whatever it's in.

  5. Laura says

    have you tried freezing and then pressing? totally changes the texture to something amazing!thanks for linking up to Just Another Meatless Monday

  6. Pattie @ Olla-Podrid says

    What a great recipe for a vegetarian sandwich that is sure to have great flavor. Thanks!

  7. Melissa Ringstaff says

    This sounds really good! I make a "tuna" salad replacing the tuna with mashed chickpeas and it is really a good substitute! I make the salad using the recipe that I used to use with real tuna. Yum!

  8. Kristi says

    Thanks again for the additional yums. Melissa—that's funny you mention that, I whipped up my leftovers creation today and I made tuna salad with the leftover baked tofu. Yummy. Mashed chickpeas sound like they'd be good in it, too.

  9. Kristen says

    I am completely intrigued by this recipe and your substitutions, I would love to try it! And quite genius using the pan to smoosh down your panini!Thanks for linking to Gold Star Wednesday!

  10. Anonymous says

    Hey, iv been a vegetarian most of my life but tuna is slways the thing I have missed. I am trying this tomorrow! :)Nicci