Recipe Index

Chipotle Tofu Cemita Sandwiches
Makes 4 big sandwiches

A cemita is an interesting Mexican sandwich consisting of lots of tasting ingredients: refried beans, avocado, tomato, onions, Mexican papalo herb and many other fillings stuffed into a big sesame seed bun. Since the actual cemita bun typically contains egg, for your sandwich making needs look for any big, fluffy, not-too-crusty sandwich buns with sesame seeds. This filling features saucy chipotle roasted tofu, a smear of black beans and all the other good Mexi-stuff.

Ingredient tip:

Chipotles in adobo sauce are smoked, canned chipotles in a rich tasting tomato sauce. Look for little cans of chipotles in adobo in Mexican grocery stores. Adjust the amount of chipotles in this recipe depending on your heat tolerance, but be sure to include the adobo sauce as it has tons of flavor; if you’re not sure about how hot you want the tofu, open each chipotle and remove as many seeds as possible.

While you’re at the Mexican grocery, look for papalo, a tender leafy green herb with rounded leaves with a herbal, slightly soapy taste; wash and pat dry for use in cemitas. Cilantro makes an decent stand-in for papalo.

Tofu note: I’ll have detailed instructions for pressing tofu, but for now you can just check out’s advice.

Chipotle Roasted Tofu

  • 1 pound extra firm or super firm tofu
  • 1 cup Mexican beer (most all Mexican beers are vegan)
  • 3 chipotles in adobo sauce plus 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or grated
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

For each sandwich

  • 4 large round sesame seed soft sandwich buns
  • 1 cup refried black or pinto beans, warmed
  • Vegan mayonnaise
  • Slices of ripe avocado
  • Very thin slices of red onion or Pickled Red Onions [SEE RECIPE IN RECIPE INDEX]
  • Thin slices of ripe tomato
  • Thin strips of pickled jalapeño (in escabiche), optional
  • 3 cups shredded romaine lettuce or thinly shredded cabbage
  • 2 cups of Mexican papalo herbs or sprigs of cilantro

1. Prepare the tofu first; preheat oven to 400 degrees and have ready 9 x 13 x 2 inch ceramic baking dish. Drain and slice tofu into 8 cutlets and press for 30 minutes between paper towels, topped with a wooden cutting board and weighed down with a few heavy cookbooks. Chop the chipotles as fine as possible and scoop up the juices and seeds into the baking dish, then whisk in the remaining tofu marinade ingredients. When tofu is done pressing, lay in a single layer in the marinade and poke each slice with a fork several times, then flip over and press into the marinade. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and bake another 20-24 minutes or until most of the marinade has been absorbed but tofu still looks juicy and is browned on top. Turn off oven but keep warm.

2. Prepare the other fillings while the tofu is baking, including warming the beans. To assemble a sandwich, split and lightly toast each roll on a warm cast iron skillet. Smear the insides of the top of the roll with 1/4 cup of refried beans and the bottom side with mayonnaise, then layer two slices of tofu (along with any juices from the roasting pan) on the bottom layer. Top with avocado, onions, tomato, jalapeños, shredded lettuce/cabbage and papalo/cilantro. Top with remaining half of the roll, squish the sandwich down and serve immediately.


Chipotle Tofu Burritos

If you’re thinking this would make a kickin’ burrito filling, you’re not far off at all. Pile these ingredients in your favorite 8-10 inch (or larger if you can find them), warm flour tortillas. For that special cemita touch, sprinkle the filling with a 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame seeds before folding.

For additional yum, gently grill the burrito on a hot cast iron skillet on both sides until hot and lightly browned. Place the seam side of the burrito down first as it will help seal the burrito and help hold it together.