Every vegan and veg-curious individual must have one easy, throw-it-together-and-call-it-a-day recipe in their arsenal. And that recipe is an easy tofu pasta that goes from ingredients to dinner in 20 minutes or less.
Because after hours of staring at a screen, and hours more fighting traffic on an insane commute, we could all use a fresh-cooked meal and time away from technology.
That, my friends, is where this easy tofu pasta recipe comes in.
: By the way, if you want to travel to Italy and eat the real deal, then check out my travel blog posts on Rome and Pisa. I highly recommend Ginger in Rome for delectable pasta and Pizza in Trevi for, well, .
How to Cook Pasta Al Dente
Just in case you’re not already familiar with the term al dente, I’ll go over that more here.
Al dente is a form of cooking used to make the pasta still firm when it’s bitten. It’s the more traditional way of boiling pasta, and I do prefer it.
However, if you like American-style squishy noodles, then you do you, boo.
If this is your first time cooking al dente, then either follow the directions of the specific pasta you bought (al dente will probably be on there) or just boil it for 2 minutes less than “regular” cooking calls for.
Out of U.S. grocery store options, I prefer Barilla. They have great whole wheat options and good gluten-free options for our GF friends. I typically buy Barilla gluten-free penne to use with this recipe, but any pasta will do!
Sautée the Tofu Just Right
If you read nothing else of this explanation, read this.
The key to this easy tofu pasta is to sautée and season your tofu just right. Without this, it’ll be mushy-gushy and not nearly as appetizing.
For crispier tofu that isn’t breaded, make sure your skillet is on medium-high heat. At this level, it seems you’ll burn the tofu, but you won’t as long as you stir regularly. You need the higher heat to make those browned edges, and to do so quickly.
Add the veggies of your choice
Of course, whichever veggies you want to use vary by your taste buds and even by what’s in season.
I’m a creature of habit, so I stick to my faves: baby bella mushrooms, yellow or red onion, and finely chopped garlic cloves.
If you’re looking for a little extra oomph (and iron), add a large handful of spinach to your tofu pasta! I especially love to do this when my spinach is on its last legs, which is often…
Choose a pasta sauce that makes it all sing
This is so important that it’s second only to our crispy tofu.
If you’re based in the good ole US of A like I currently am, then you know we have a major issue with added sugars hiding in EVERYTHING. Including savory dishes. It drives me bonkers.
For a pasta that’s more traditional and that doesn’t hide extra unnecessary calories, look for a pasta sauce at the store that has no added sugar. Any sweetness should be natural and come exclusively from the tomatoes!
Personally, I love to use either Rao’s Marinara ($$$) or The Silver Palate Marinara ($$).
Garnish with raw olives, fresh basil, or nothing
This is where our creativity can really kick in, friends. Depending on my mood and what sounds delizioso at the moment, I may garnish extravagantly or not at all.
With the flavors from this specific tofu pasta recipe, I love to add two or three raw green olives (pimiento-stuffed, per favore). If I’m feeling extra fancy, I may even sprinkle fresh or dried basil on top.
However, there are just as many times I don’t garnish or embellish at all. The beauty of this easy tofu pasta recipe is not only its simplicity, but how much flavor it brings on its own.
Easy Tofu Pasta
- 2 tbsp olive oil Extra virgin is best.
- 2 tbsp vegan butter I use Earth Balance. Its flavor is richer.
- 1/4 block extra-firm tofu
- 1/2 small onion Yellow or red will suffice.
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 or 5 portobello mushrooms
- 1 cup pasta I prefer penne, but use your imagination!
- 1/2 cup pasta sauce Loose recommendation. Use however much you want, grasshopper. See post for my recs on pasta sauce criteria.
- 1/4 tsp seasoned salt I use Morton's Nature's Seasons.
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning blend
- Boil pasta according to package instructions. If no al dente instructions are given and that method is how you prefer your pasta, then boil the noodles for approximately 2 minutes less than what the box tells you. Taste test for good measure.
- While water for pasta heats, heat olive oil in (an ideally nonstick) skillet on medium-high heat.
- Cut tofu into cubes. I prefer to cut mine into small or medium sizes, but their size is your choice.
- Add tofu cubes to skillet. Oil will be hot and water from tofu may pop when added.
- Sautée tofu, stirring regularly to evenly brown all sides. You want the sides to be lightly browned, just a little crisp.
- Once tofu is lightly browned on all sides, turn down heat to medium.
- Add butter, chopped onion, garlic, and mushrooms to skillet. Sprinkle seasoned salt and Italian seasoning on top. Sautée until veggies release their juices and aroma, and butter is melted.
- Add pasta sauce to skillet. Let heat until sauce bubbles.
- Serve with pasta on bottom and spoon sauce on top.
- Add garnish of raw green olives and/or fresh basil leaves, if desired. Buon appetito!