This tofu pasta is a plant-based take on a rich, delicious bolognese! Quick and easy to make, this recipe is budget friendly and family friendly, too. Super versatile, as well, and the tofu pasta sauce would be delicious in a lasagna!
🍝 What Makes This Recipe So Good
- This tofu pasta is so flavorful and delicious! The tofu is lightly seasoned, and crisped to golden perfection in the oven. The tomato sauce is simple, yet absolutely irresistible. It has a little hint of sweetness, which will please even the pickiest of eaters. This sauce is packed with so much flavor, you’ll be finding excuses to make it again!
- It’s impressive, and so easy to make. There’s no complicated steps with cooking the tofu, and the sauce is super simple. Just bake the tofu, simmer your sauce, boil noodles, then serve! This tofu pasta is sure to become a new favorite for busy weeknights, or even for serving company.
👩🏼🍳 Chef’s Tips
- We kept this tofu pasta as close to a traditional bolognese dish as possible by using pappardelle noodles, but you can totally use any dry pasta you might have on hand!
- The tofu bakes fairly quickly, especially any smaller crumbled pieces. Keep an eye on the oven, and remove the tofu as soon as most of it turns golden. You want the tofu to be crisp, but not dry or burnt!
🍝 More Budget-Friendly Italian Meals We Love
- Baked Ziti Pasta
- Lemon Pepper Pasta
- Alfredo Linguini with Homemade Alfredo Sauce
- Turkey Spaghetti
- Firebirds’ Chicken Pasta Copycat Recipe
- Tomato Florentine Soup
- Keto Eggplant Parmesan
- Shrimp Carbonara
- Spaghetti Alfredo
- large baking sheet
- parchment paper
- large plate (or cutting board)
- paper towels
- large, heavy skillet
- large bowl
- potato masher (optional)
- large pot
- large wooden spoon
- serving bowls
For the Tofu
- 1 16-ounce block tofu (firm or extra-firm)
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil (avocado oil, olive oil, vegetable oil, etc.)
- ½ teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
- freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
For the Pasta
- 16 cups water
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 pound dry pappardelle (or pasta of choice)
For the Pasta Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic (minced or pressed)
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes (approximately ¼ teaspoon)
- 1 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
- ½ teaspoon white sugar
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
Serving Suggestions (All Optional)
- thinly sliced fresh basil
- grated fresh parmesan (or grated dairy-free parmesan)
For the Tofu
- Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Drain 1 16-ounce block tofu, then wrap tofu completely in 2 layers of paper towels, covering all sides of tofu block. Place wrapped tofu block on large plate or cutting board.
- Place heavy skillet on top of wrapped tofu. Leave tofu under skillet 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove skillet. Unwrap tofu and discard paper towels, then rewrap tofu in 2 fresh layers of paper towels. Make sure to cover all sides of tofu block completely. Return tofu to plate or cutting board.
- Replace skillet on top of tofu block. Again leave tofu under skillet 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove skillet. Unwrap tofu and discard paper towels. Place pressed tofu in large bowl and use hands or potato masher to crumble tofu into small pieces.
- Add 1 tablespoon neutral oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and freshly cracked black pepper to bowl. Toss ingredients until tofu is well coated in oil and seasonings. Transfer tofu to prepared baking sheet and spread tofu out into one even layer.
- Place baking sheet in preheated oven. Bake tofu 10 to 15 minutes or until tofu is mostly golden, not burnt or very crispy. Once tofu is ready, remove baking sheet from oven and set aside.
For the Pasta
- Fill large pot with 16 cups water and place on stovetop over medium-high heat. Bring water to rolling boil, then stir in 1 tablespoon sea salt.
- Bring salted water to rolling boil, then add 1 pound dry pappardelle. Stir to incorporate, then boil pasta according to package instructions.
- Once pasta is al dente, pour pasta and water into colander and drain well. Set aside until ready to serve.
For the Pasta Sauce
- Place skillet on stovetop over medium-low heat. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil evenly over bottom of skillet and heat pan until oil is hot and shimmery.
- When oil is ready, add 3 cloves garlic and stir to incorporate. Sauté garlic, stirring constantly, 30 to 60 seconds or until just fragrant.
- Once garlic is fragrant, add 2 teaspoons dried basil, 1 pinch red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon white sugar. Stir to incorporate, then let mixture simmer 1 minute.
- After 1 minute, pour in 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes and stir well, scraping bottom of skillet to remove any garlic or spices that may have stuck to pan.
- Reduce heat under saucepan to low and simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, approximately 10 minutes.
- Add baked tofu crumbles to sauce and stir well to fully incorporate. Simmer tofu in sauce 2 minutes, or until tofu is warmed through. Taste sauce and adjust basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and/or sugar as desired.
- When satisfied with flavor of sauce, divide pasta into serving bowls. Top each serving of pasta with desired amount of tofu tomato sauce. Garnish with thinly sliced fresh basil and grated fresh parmesan (optional) and serve immediately.
- Tofu: Soft and silken tofu won’t work for this recipe – they’re too soft to crumble like we need. Be sure to use firm or extra-firm tofu!
Our 2 Cents
- Tofu is undoubtedly less expensive up front when you buy it in block form, but if you have a little wiggle room in your budget AND you want to save yourself quite a bit of time, you can use meatless “ground beef” crumbles instead.
- You’re welcome to use jarred red sauce rather than making a sauce from scratch. Jarred sauces are great to keep on hand, so if you find a great sale, don’t hesitate to stock your pantry!
Recipe costs provided are approximate. Actual cost per recipe & serving will vary by location, store, brand, etc. Approximate cost shown does not include costs for any optional ingredients.
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes. Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used. To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.