When most people encounter the idea of combining pasta with tofu they generally respond with “why?” or “eww!” I’m a huge fan of tofu and if I hadn’t actually tried this I would be raising one eyebrow at it. But it’s good. It’s so good that people who never buy tofu go back for extra tofu bits for their pasta with every helping. I’m not kidding. It’s not mind-blowing or anything but it’s a tasty change and great when you have vegetarian guests. The idea is pretty simple. We’re going to make your traditional pasta withred-sauce and meatballs except we’re replacing the meatballs with crisp tofu slices. Ingredients:
- Spaghetti, Ziti, Linguine, etc. I recommend avoiding fine pasta’s likeangel-hair.
- Vegetable / Safflower / anything but Olive oil to fry it in.
- Oregano. Lots of oregano. This is non-optional.
- One block of extra firm tofu. NOT SILKEN.
- As many of the following as you can get your hands on.
- garlic powder (highly recommended)
- brewer’s yeast flakes (health food section / store usually but still hard to find)
- onion powder
- Pour off the water in the tofu container. With the tofu still in its container take a sharp knife and slice it across the smaller dimension into1/8th to 3/16th inch slices. It’s important to keep them thin. Much thinner and theytear and have no body. Much thicker and the crisp to soft ratio is broken. Then make one slice down the middle lengthwise. This will leave you with tworows of tofu squares approximately 1 1⁄2” x 1 1⁄2” x 1⁄8”.
- Heat up your fry pan somewhere between medium high and high.
- Lay down a thin layer of vegetable oil. Just enough to cover the bottom.
- Sprinkle the oregano, brewer’s yeast, garlic powder, and onion powder over the oil.
- Cover the pan with a single layer of tofu. Use the spatula because the water in / on the tofu will spatter.
- Sprinkle the oregano, brewer’s yeast, garlic powder, and onion powder over the tofu. Now both sides have it.
- Let the tofu cook until it’s golden. I’m talking a little lighter than a McDonalds chicken nugget golden.
- If you need to pour a little more oil into the pan between the slices and tilt it around.
- Flip your tofu over. If it’s not golden yet flip it back. It’s really important that each side gets a little crisp. Sometimes you’ll find that the edges get nicely done but the center of the sides are only slightly golden. This is ok. The edges will compensate for the middle when you’re eating it.
One block of tofu will probably end up covering 2 1⁄2 fry pans. So, grab some friends and hang out in the kitchen while you fry it up and they look at you like a crazy person for suggesting they eat tofu on their pasta. I’d guess maybe 5 minutes per pan, but I’ve never timed it. You want to keep it warm but remember that it’s freaking hot when if first comes off of the fry pan. Top your pasta with it in exactly the same way you’d use meatballs. I’d recommend a good vodka sauce. There are three brands I’ve seen in the supermarket lately and so far the Barilla that comes with two bottles is the best, although they don’t label it as a vodka sauce. [Update: this product doesn’t appear to be for sale anymore] You have to read the ingredients and look for vodka but I think it’s the most normal looking one of the three they offer. I wouldn’t recommend this with white sauce.
- It’s in your best interest to gently push your tofu around in the pan while it cooks so that it doesn’t stick. Sticking is bad because it will tear when you pick it up.
- Because we want clean-up to be easy we want to use barely enough oil at all times. Just keep enough so that there is some between each piece of tofu and the pan.
- If you cut the tofu too thin it’ll just crisp like a potato-chip and that’s no fun.
- We’re shooting for something that feels a lot like a chicken nugget in your mouth. It should be a little crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. If you cut them as thick as a nugget though you get too much of the bland uncooked tofu flavor which doesn’t really help pasta in any way.
- Because you’ve got the heat up high and you’re throwing little dried leaves and powdered things in the pan and you’ll probably have to do three batches to finish the whole block there may be a little smoke. Don’t worry,just turn on the fan and keep an eye on things.
- While I haven’t tried tofu and meatballs on the same pasta I think it would be too much.
If you’re wondering what else you can do with your brewer’s yeast you can always sprinkle it on your dog’s food. It’s great for dogs but you might want to avoid it if you have a breed that is prone to bloat.
Brewer’s yeast contains essential B vitamins including biotin, minerals including zinc, and high quality proteins. These assist in the control of shedding and promote a healthy skin and hair coat. Brewer’s yeast has been fed to pets to control fleas as it seems to create an odor from the inside out that is unpleasant to fleas. This has not been confirmed through research. It has also been said the brewer’s yeast will stimulate the immune system. -PetEducation.com
I honestly haven’t a clue where I got the idea for this. I’m not sure if I thought this up, or if it was Miller, or maybe I read it somewhere…