Grilled Tofu Shawarma
on Jun 07, 2021, Updated May 28, 2023
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Served with grilled veggies and a tomato cucumber salad, this grilled tofu shawarma eats like a salad or grain bowl with chickpeas and couscous.
There are so many things you can do with tofu. It’s a total chameleon ingredient.
As a vegan substitute for proteins in meals, tofu has the ability to take on a lot of flavor.
For this grilled tofu shawarma, I create my version of that signature spice mix with turmeric, cumin, paprika, cinnamon and a slew of other seasonings and make it into a marinade with lemon juice and olive oil.
The best part about grilling the tofu is that it gives it this wonderful slightly smoky taste.
What Is Shawarma?
Typically made from chicken, beef or lamb that is thinly sliced and stacked into a cone shape, shawarma is served wrapped in a pita or flatbread with pickles and veggies.
It is considered a street food and has roots that date back to the Ottoman Empire.
My grilled tofu version goes very big on the vegetables and is served on a plate or in a bowl rather than being wrapped in a pita. It eats like a salad or grain bowl.
This is what you need for the tofu shawarma:
- Tofu: Because the tofu is sliced and grilled in this recipe, I use extra firm tofu since it keeps its shape.
- Seasoning mix: The spices in this blend include turmeric, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, salt and pepper.
- Lemon juice: With so many dried spices, lemon juice adds brightness to the marinade as well as the tomato cucumber salad.
- Zucchini, yellow squash & red peppers: For me, these are the best trio for grilled vegetables.
- Grape tomatoes, cucumbers & red onions: This simple salad also has lemon juice, parsley and olive oil.
- Couscous: I love couscous because it’s such a quick cooking option instead of rice, but you can use whatever cooked grains you have in your kitchen including quinoa.
- Chickpeas: For serving, a scoop of chickpeas makes this combination of tofu and veggies even more hearty and filling.
How To Make Grilled Tofu Shawarma
Before marinating the tofu, you need to press the moisture out of the block. You can wrap it in paper towels and place a heavy pot or cutting board on top of it and let it sit for at least 15 minutes.
Pressing the tofu improves its texture and helps it hold its shape, which is important since it’s going to go on the grill. I cook tofu so often that I have a tofu press.
Once the tofu is pressed, I cut it into 1/2-inch thick slices.
Then I whisk together turmeric, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil in a big bowl.
I add the tofu and spoon the marinade over it.
While to tofu is marinating, I prep the veggies. Zucchini, squash and red peppers are my favorite combination to grill. I just toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper.
The only thing left to make before I preheat the grill is the tomato cucumber salad. In a small bowl, I stir together the tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, parsley, lemon, juice olive oil, salt and pepper.
By making the salad now, it gives it a chance to let the flavors meld.
Finally, it’s time to fire up the grill.
Since the vegetables take longer, I grill them first.
With the zucchini, squash and peppers sliced lengthwise into strips, it makes it easier to arrange them on the grates and not risk them falling through.
Once they are grill marked, I give them time to cool a little before dicing the vegetables.
Next I grill the tofu. It only takes 1-2 minutes per side for it to finishing grilling.
Serving The Tofu
You can serve the tofu on a plate or in a bowl. I like to arrange each component in it’s own section. Then when I eat it, everything just ends up mixed together.
In addition to the tofu, roasted vegetables and tomato cucumber salad, I also include chickpeas and couscous.
The tofu can be left in slices or you can cut it into cubes before plating it.
I finish everything with chopped parsley.
Can You Use A Grill Pan?
Absolutely! I am a big fan of stovetop grill pans. Not everyone has access to outdoor space or a grill, so they really come in handy.
I have a tutorial on how to grill vegetables without a grill.
Grilled Tofu Shawarma
- For tofu
- 1-14 ounce block extra firm tofu
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- For grilled vegetables
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/2-inch thick
- 1 medium yellow squash, sliced lengthwise 1/2-inch thick
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise 3-inches wide
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- For tomato cucumber salad
- 1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
- 1/2 cup quartered and sliced cucumbers
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onions
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- For serving
- Cooked couscous
- Chopped parsley
- Pat the tofu dry with a paper towel. Wrap with a dry paper towel and place a cast iron pan or cutting board on top to remove more liquid. Let stand for 15 minutes. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch thick slices.
- Stir together the turmeric, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, lemon juice and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the tofu, turning to coat. Let the tofu marinate while you prep the other ingredients.
- For the vegetables, toss the zucchini, squash and red peppers with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
- For the tomato cucumber salad, combine the grape tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, parsley, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl.
- Preheat a gas or charcoal grill on medium high heat. Grill the zucchini, squash and peppers until they are grill marked on both sides, about 4-5 minutes.
- Then grill the tofu, 1-2 minutes per side, until is slightly charred with grill marks.
- Cut the grilled vegetables into a large dice.
- To assemble, arrange the tofu, grilled vegetables and tomato cucumber salad in a bowl or dish and serve with chickpeas and couscous. Top with chopped parsley.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.