Big news.  I’m having a marathon baby.


In ten days I am going to wake up at 5 in the morning, head to Staten Island where I will wait in the cold until my 10:30AM start time, when I will willingly embark on one of the most painful (and awesome) experiences of my life, all the while cursing myself for ever even considering doing such a thing and swearing that I will never EVER put myself through this again.  (Really, Jo? You didn’t learn the first TWO TIMES.)

Until, of course, it is over approximately four hours later and the endorphins are rushing through my veins like wildfires in Oregon during a drought.

At which point I will have forgotten all aforementioned pain and suffering and will feel so damn PUMPED that I will feel a strong compulsion to sign up for another marathon the next day. (And, given my track record…probably will.)


Seriously.  This is happening.


Right now I’m in the nesting phase.

Otherwise known as…the taper.

Which is basically the last two weeks before the race when you stop running/exercising as much in order to give your muscles time to heal and store lots of glycogen.  In my experience, tapering feels different for every person, every time.

Sometimes your muscles get all achy from all that rest you’re giving them (weird. But…it happens.)

Sometimes you feel completely lethargic and cranky and irritated and like you’re PMS-ing for two straight weeks.

(No comment.)


And sometimes you feel like you have enough energy to run 5 miles at an 8:25 min/mile pace and just want to bake bread constantlyallthetime. <–That’s me. Right now.

(If you thought I was going to say I wanted to vacuum my apartment…well, that’s funny. And  Sorry mom.)

So when I saw that this week’s Mid-East Feast recipe was shawarma wraps…I seized the opportunity to bury my hands in some flatbread dough.  It was majorly satisfying.

Especially given how delicious the finished product was.  Imagine a doughy, sesame-infused pillow topped with a perfectly spiced tofu/sweet potato mixture…with a side of homemade pickles. Swoon.

(And see what I mean about this pregnancy/marathon thing? Don’t fight it.)


Shawarma Spice Mix (adapted from An Edible Mosaic)

  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Tofu Shawarma
Serves 4, adapted from An Edible Mosaic


  • 1 batch Shawarma Spice Mix
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed
  • 1 large sweet potato (I used a white sweet potato), peeled and cubed
  • Pickles


  1. Prepare the Shawarma Spice Mix.
  2. Combine the spice mix with the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt in a large bowl.  Add the tofu and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for 2-24 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400.
  4. Toss the sweet potato cubes with the tofu and marinade.  Spread the tofu and sweet potato out on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
  5. Serve on flatbreads with pickles.

Yields 1 liter, adapted from An Edible Mosaic 


  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 7-10 Persian or Japanese cucumbers, washed and trimmed
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Water to cover the cucumber


  1. Combine the 1 cup water, salt and sugar in a small pan.  Heat until salt and sugar are completely dissolved.
  2. In the meantime, cut the cucumbers into spears by cutting them in half lengthwise and then cutting each half into 3 equal pieces.  Put 1 clove garlic in the bottom of a 1 liter Mason jar.  Add the cucumber spears and the second clove of garlic.  Pour the hot water into the jar.  Add enough water so that the cucumbers are completely covered.  Cover the jar and shake a few times.  Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Sesame Seed Bread
Makes 6 loaves, adapted from An Edible Mosaic 


  • 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp warm water
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 tsp black or white sesame seeds (or both!)


  1. Brush 2 tsp oil on the inside of a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix together the yeast, sugar and warm water in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  4. Stir the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients, then stir in the remaining 2 tbsp oil.  Add in the milk mixture and then, using a bread hook attachment, stir until the dough comes together and then “knead” on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.  Add more liquid if necessary, by the tsp, if the dough is too dry to come together. 
  5. Transfer the dough to the oiled bowl and roll it gently to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.  Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and roll into oval-shaped loaves, about 6 inches by 3 inches.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400.  Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Transfer the loaves to the prepared baking sheets.  Lightly brush them with a bit of milk and sprinkle on the sesame seeds.  Let them rest until they start to puff up, about 10-15 minutes.  Bake the loaves 1 sheet at a time until light golden brown, about 16 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack. 

This has been yeastspotted!

Check out these other blogs to see how their chicken shawarma, pickles and garlic mayo turned out!
Brandy – Nutmeg Nanny
Amanda – Fake Ginger
Heather – Girlichef
Natasha – Five Star Foodie


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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67 Responses to Tofu and Sweet Potato Shawarma on Sesame Flatbreads with Homemade Pickles

  1. Love how you interpreted Faith’s recipe!

    PS SO excited for your marathon!!

  2. I can’t even fathom all of that “runner-stuff”. It makes me shiver ;P But I’m always in awe, that’s for sure. Your tofu shawarma looks really great…and those flatbreads? NEED!

  3. Amazing! I can’t believe you have the time to make all this! It all looks amazing…
    Good luck w/ the taper! Will be thinking of you on 11/4!

  4. OMGGGG!!! So excited for your big day! I’m going to try to sign up for the NY marathon next year, but I think there’s a draw, right? Happy tapering 🙂

  5. Saguna says:

    Wow, those are some gorgeous flatbreads… and tofu shawarma?! Such a brilliant idea. And now you’ve got me craving pickles too- I think I’m going to make a batch, actually.

  6. I can’t wait to hear about the race afterwards. And, schwarma . . . Yum!

  7. Amy says:

    You have an 8:25 pace? WHAT? Dude.

  8. Wow! What an involved and delicious looking meal. Enjoy your tapering. Perhaps it’ll get easier?

  9. Congrates on going to run a marathon! That is so awesome! I really wish I like to run! Runnig a marathon would be so rewarding, even if you don’t complete it!

    Your meal looks amazing! I want to make the Sesane Seed Bread! It looks so yummy!

  10. I am slightly jealous of your commitment to do marathons. I haven’t done my long-distance cycling in a long time and the weather in closing in on winter…. gah! Love your meal, though. Looks delicious!

  11. Beth says:

    Cant wait to hear how your marathon goes! And I get what you mean – I sometimes bake to avoid writing, but I’ve been known to write in order to avoid vacuuming.

  12. Tandy says:

    Interesting that the pickles have no vinegar in them!

  13. london bakes says:

    I think I should sign up for a marathon just so I can do the tapering if this is what it involves 😉

  14. Jenn Kendall says:

    this sounds soooo delicious Joanne! good luck with the upcoming marathon!

  15. The longest distance I run is a half. I’m one of those obsessive daily runners who is kind of scared about the idea of tapering. BTW–just in general, I am so impressed by how frequently you post! I have a full time job so it’s hard for me to post more than once a week, but med school is harder than a full-time job, plus I know you also work in a lab and have a life! You must be very organized!

  16. My (first) taper starts next week, and I have a feeling I’m going to be doing a lot of cooking too! Those flatbreads look perfect!

  17. wow… i don’t know how you do this marathon thing girl! i just don’t know. should i be jealous of you or should i think that you are completely nuts? 🙂

    i love these recipes! the bread looks so soft and the tofu shawarma is so intriguing. whoever said that shawarma should just be beef! love this!

  18. Faith says:

    First I have to say, you are amazing — such an inspiration!!

    And oh wow, does this look incredible! I would love to try a tofu version of shawarma, bet it would give the version with chicken a run for its money, lol. And I’m so happy you liked the flatbread too!

  19. One of my favorite things about you is the way you use sweet potato. And PICKLES! I am in mexico and all i want is pickles right now.

  20. Pam says:

    Very interesting recipe. It sounds delicious, love the flat bread! My DIL could totally relate to you with the running.

  21. Hotly Spiced says:

    Your flatbreads look very yummy. Good luck with the tapering. My friend leaves one week today. She’s tapering as well xx

  22. Guru Uru says:

    That tofu looks seasoned to perfection my friend 😀
    You deserve it after your incredible run!


  23. Eileen says:

    PICKLES, man. I would eat an entire jar of those right about now. I haven’t had shawarma in far too long–sounds so good! 🙂

  24. Pam says:

    Good luck on your upcoming marathon! The flat bread looks amazing and so do those pickles!

  25. OohLookBel says:

    This looks so good, especially the pickles. And best of luck with your marathon. Go Jo!

  26. Kerstin says:

    Yay for taper and carb loading! Lovely meal 🙂

  27. daphne says:

    FOAM ROLLER! I swear by it LOL but these look amazing and you need those carbs with the way you are running!!! I love the touch of sesame and how you used tofu. Great light and healthy meal to fill your body up!
    ps-not sure if you received my email?

  28. Juliana says:

    Nice vegetarian dish Joanne…and love the combination of tofu with sweet potatoes…and yes extra pickles for me 🙂
    Good luck with the marathon my dear!

  29. Reeni Pisano says:

    I LOVE that this entire recipe is all homemade from the bread to the pickles! Makes it extra special and extra delicious.

  30. teresa says:

    THAT is a plate i want to dig into. everything looks amazing, LOVE the bread. good good luck girl!

  31. Katie says:

    Yeah! You’ll have someone cheering you on along Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn! I might make this for dinner after to celebrate!

  32. Looks like you’re making good use of your extra time/energy – much better than vacuuming! I kept waiting to see where the sweet potatoes were until I read you used white sweet potatoes – so weird, I’ve never heard of them!

  33. Kari says:

    I’m very excited for your marathon coming up 🙂 And really quite excited about this dish. I figure this is perfect marathon preparation, and a very delicious sort too.

  34. I like your version with tofu and sweet potatoes, very creative, and how cool that you made your own flatbreads and pickles!

  35. That Girl says:

    Wait wait – you made those pickles? They’re gorgeous!

    And I always have said that running is like giving birth in that you swear you’ll never do it again, until you cross the finish.

  36. Great adaption Joanne and those flatbreads are awesome – I need to make those!

  37. Lynn says:

    Those look good! I can’t wait to read about the marathon.

  38. Johanna GGG says:

    oh this meal looks so good – I wish I had your excuse to eat bread but honestly I don’t need a marathon taper (if that is the correct term) to bake and eat lots of bread – I just need a little energy – please send me some 🙂

  39. Katerina says:

    Good luck Joanne! My son is a big fan of tofu, I think he would love this dish!

  40. Mseeyah says:

    Yum Tofu! Looks incredibly delicious. Good luck on your Marathon!

  41. Remember all too well the “taper phase” – I could not think about much else apart from “the marathon day”. It was a mixture of anxiety with cautious excitement, a little fear, but… the feeling of the full training behind, and… all systems go!

    good luck, I’ll be anxiously waiting for your full report! Hope the weather is perfect – I like it cold but not chilly, and a little, light rain never hurts 😉

  42. cquek says:

    I absolutely love your pictures and your recipes.

  43. That looks absolutely delicious and unlike anything I’ve ever eaten before. Good luck with your Marathon.

  44. Pam says:

    Love the homemade pickles! I’ll be thinking of you on the big running day!

  45. I can’t even seem to get off my butt for a jog around the neighborhood—maybe I SHOULD…(and when I do, it’ll be in part, thanks to you) ^.^ I can’t believe you made your own pickles to accompany this wonderful rock!

  46. I’m not really sure what I’m most excited about, The Shawarma spice mix, the bread or the pickles.

  47. Gloria says:

    thw tofu look awesomw!! and I love th pictures!!

  48. Gloria says:

    and the bread look delicious too!

  49. Best of luck on your marathon run, I’m sure you will do very well. This blog was sensational I love all the recipes here.
    Thank You and stay healthy.

  50. Jeanette says:

    Wow, I am seriously impressed – you even made the bread for these gorgeous shawarmas! I actually tried making a gluten-free version of the flatbread and it was a disaster, so ended up using store-bought whole wheat lavash bread and pita bread, and corn tortillas for my gluten-free son. Love how you made these vegetarian with the tofu and sweet potato. These were so good, weren’t they!

  51. Blond Duck says:

    You’re such a culinary rock star.

  52. Deborah says:

    I’m totally not getting ready to run a marathon (that would be a sight to see right now!!) but I am getting ready to birth a baby. So I could totally get away with making a bucketload of this bread right now, right?? 🙂

  53. You are such an inspiration, Joanne! I gave up running for a bit (it just got too hot here in LA) and I was barely able to run a mile the other day. But hopefully in due time I can run those 5 miles and bake bread all day. And eat this amazingness for every single meal. That bread looks so fluffy, and this whole shawarma looks like a party meal!

  54. Love your veggie version! And good luck with the marathon baby, I hope the “delivery” goes even faster than you hope. 🙂

  55. Ha. I read this and thought at first BABY?! YAY! Ha. I have a one track mind these days (details forthcoming. wink wink). A marathon baby is just as fabulous though!! Truly impressive, Joanne. GOOD LUCK!! You’ll crush it!

  56. Shannon says:

    haha, nice comparison 😉 stay strong during this taper, you’re going to have one [email protected] marathon. I’m bummed I can’t make it down to cheer you on, but I will be thinking of you every step of the way!

  57. So creative! I can not WAIT to make this. Last year when I was tapering for the marathon it was definitely not easy. But when I ran strong, I knew it was worth it. Keep it up!

  58. ok i need to find me some fenugreek

  59. daphne says:

    looks healthy and deliciously good 😀

  60. Elizabeth says:

    Whoa! This looks amazing! And NOW I understand why our vacuum stays languishing in the closet… it’s right beside the giant bin that we keep our bread flour in.

  61. Chris says:

    You misspelled “pork”, unless “tofu” is an alternative spelling of which I was not aware 😉

  62. Ashley says:

    Catching up on my google reader and I want to eat every single thing you’ve cooked in the last few weeks. This looks fanfriggintastic!!

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