Tofu pasta is a delicious vegan recipe with tasty crumbled tofu and a rich tomato sauce. This is essentially a tofu bolognese that you can put together for a quick, easy, and nutritious meal in less than 30 minutes.
Check out our best pasta recipes collection!
Combing tofu and pasta is an easy and effective way to get a fulfilling and nourishing vegan meal, with plenty of protein, in little time. Also, it's easy to make tofu taste great with a few simple ingredients, which is fantastic as we always try to keep things simple in our kitchen.
For this recipe, we use a rich tofu pasta sauce which is basically a tofu bolognese that you can serve on top of any of your favorite pasta.
We developed two ways to make it, they are both easy, but the final result is slightly different in texture.
If you like chewier tofu, then I'd recommend following the oven-baked method (I personally prefer this one). The tofu is crumbled, then baked in the oven for 15 minutes till it gets chewy, and finally added to the tomato sauce. It stays crispier, and it doesn't taste much like tofu.
If you like a softer tofu bolognese, I'd recommend making the pan-fried method (Louise prefers this one). The tofu is crumbled, then cooked with the sauce in the pan. It gets a lot softer this way, and you can taste the tofu a little more.
Both ways are delicious, and we are sure you'll love tofu pasta cooked this way because it's healthy, tasty, and incredibly fulfilling.
Pasta: we use regular Italian pasta. Spaghetti, linguine, rigatoni, and penne are our favorites for this tofu bolognese sauce. You can use any other pasta type or pasta variety. If you are gluten-free, you can use gluten-free pasta. If you want to try something a little different, try pasta made with legumes (like lentil pasta).
Tofu: firm tofu and extra-firm tofu are best here as we will crumble it. Silken tofu and soft tofu won't work as they'll disappear in the sauce. If you'd like to try something else, check out our lentil bolognese, tempeh bolognese, or mushroom bolognese.
Tomatoes: go for canned or bottled tomato puree, tomato passata, or crushed tomatoes.
Soy sauce: to add flavor and umami to both the tofu and the tomato sauce. Seriously, adding a dash of soy sauce to any vegan tomato sauce is our favorite trick to make the sauce extra tasty. We use reduced-sodium soy sauce.
Flavor base: like in the Italian bolognese sauce, we use extra virgin olive oil, onion, celery, and carrot to make the flavor base for this sauce. Gently frying these 3 vegetables together in a little olive oil for just 5 minutes adds flavor.
If you are on an oil-free diet, no worries. You can fry these veggies in a dry pan without oil, on low heat, for a couple of minutes. The natural oils in the vegetables will be enough to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the pan. We often do it like this when trying to eat less oil.
Herbs and spices: not much is required for this sauce, and we only use fresh basil and garlic powder. If you like to spice things up, add some red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, minced garlic, or crushed garlic cloves. Other herbs that go well with this sauce are oregano, thyme, bay leaves, and parsley.
Salt and black pepper.
Bake the tofu
We bake the tofu to give it some texture and taste and to dry it up so that it gets a little chewier. If you want the pan-fried version, check out our "variations" chapter below.
Preheat the oven to 390F or 200C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Crumble the tofu with your hands and into a bowl. Don't crumble it too fine. If there are some small chunks, it's ok. Add soy sauce, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Mix with a spoon, then transfer onto the baking sheet. Spread across the baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, moving it around halfway through. In the meantime, make the sauce.
Make the sauce
To a large non-stick pan, add the olive oil, finely chopped onion, celery, and carrot. You can also quickly blitz up the veggies in a food processor instead of chopping them by hand.
Gently fry the veggies in oil for 5 minutes on medium-low heat. Stir them around often.
Add canned tomatoes, soy sauce, salt, and black pepper. If you like to add other spices, this is the right time to do it. Stir and let simmer on medium to low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt. The sauce should be rich and tasty. In the meantime cook the pasta.
Boil the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water as per package directions. Pasta should be served al dente, and the water should be salted for best results. I'd recommend cooking the pasta only when you are almost done with the tofu sauce so that you won't risk overcooking it.
Mix in baked tofu and serve
When the tofu is done baking, add it to the sauce. Stir in and let simmer for just one more minute. Turn the heat off, add fresh basil or chopped parsley if you like, and serve on your favorite pasta.
We like to keep this tofu pasta dish dairy-free, so we don't add any parmesan cheese or butter. Also, the sauce is pretty flavorful on its own and doesn't require much on top, except for maybe a couple of fresh basil leaves.
If you want to give it a little cheese taste but still keep it vegan, then try adding some vegan parmesan cheese (we make it with almonds and nutritional yeast) or some crumbled vegan ricotta on top (we make it with soy milk, and it's delicious on top of any tomato sauce).
There are two ways of serving this tofu bolognese with pasta.
First: drain the pasta, portion it into a serving plate, and add a few tablespoons of tofu sauce on top. That's the simplest, no-fuss way. You can add some fresh basil, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or some vegan parmesan on top.
Second: drain the pasta when very "al dente" and add it to the pan with the sauce. Add a ladleful of reserved pasta cooking water to the pan and finish cooking the pasta, in the sauce, for a minute or two. This requires a little more time, but the final result is delicious.
This tofu bolognese sauce is not only delicious on pasta but also on rice, couscous, and gnocchi for instance. You'll love it that way. You can also just add it to vegetables (Louise always puts it on top of boiled broccoli, potatoes, and sweet potatoes).
Pan-fried tofu bolognese
As I mentioned before, if you don't want to oven-bake the tofu, you can easily pan-fry it. The tofu will be softer this way.
To start, fry the chopped onion, celery, and carrot in olive oil for about 3 minutes, then add crumbled tofu to the pan with the veggies. Don't crumble the tofu too fine, as it will break down a little in the sauce.
Add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, ½ teaspoon of salt, and a few twists of black pepper, and keep frying the tofu with the vegetables for 5 minutes.
Now add the canned tomatoes, stir, and simmer on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.
Add fresh basil, taste, and adjust for salt before serving on top of your favorite pasta.
Tofu pasta with veggies
Add some of your favorite veggies to this tofu pasta. Try with zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant, olives, and even kale. Chop your vegetable of choice in small dice, then add it to the pan with the fried onion, carrot, and celery. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté the veggies for about 5 to 10 minutes, until their cooking water evaporates. When the pan is dry, add the canned tomatoes and soy sauce, and let simmer for another 15 minutes until the sauce is rich and tasty. Use a large skillet in this case, as the veggies take up more space than our base recipe.
More tofu recipes
If you like recipes with tofu, check out our best tofu recipes compilation to get more ideas. Some of our favorite tofu recipes are:
- tofu cacciatore (kind of like chicken cacciatore but vegan)
- easy fried tofu (crisp diced tofu, perfect with salads or on top of anything, really)
- vegan fish (super simple oven-baked tofu that looks and tastes like fish)
- tofu with mushrooms (quick pan-fried tofu in creamy mushroom sauce)
- orange tofu (Asian inspired tofu in a sticky sweet and sour orange sauce)
- tofu soup (seriously the easiest, tastiest tofu soup you'll ever make)
Yes, pasta is delicious with tofu, and they are also great together from a nutritional point of view. Check out our best vegan pasta recipes to get plenty of ideas.
You can make the tofu bolognese sauce up to 3 days in advance and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. Warm it up in a saucepan on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Yes. To make tofu pasta oil-free, fry the chopped onion on a non-stick pan without oil. Apply medium-low heat, then when the onion starts releasing its natural oils, add chopped carrot and celery. Stir often for about 5 minutes, then add canned tomatoes and proceed as instructed in the recipe.
To make tofu pasta gluten-free, use tamari instead of soy sauce, and use gluten-free pasta instead of regular pasta.
I'd recommend storing the sauce separately from the pasta. Tofu bolognese keeps for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also freeze the sauce for up to 3 months.
For many more pasta ideas, check out our pasta category page.
Tofu pasta (Tofu Bolognese)
- 14 - 16 ounces tofu firm or extra firm
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 stalk celery
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes or tomato puree, or passata
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (1 for the sauce, 1 for baked tofu)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt (½ for the sauce, ½ for baked tofu)
- 4 twists black pepper
- 1 pound pasta spaghetti, linguine, rigatoni, penne, or other
- Note: We bake the tofu to give it some texture and taste and to dry it up so that it gets a little chewier. If you want the pan-fried version, check out the "variations" chapter above.
- Preheat oven to 390F or 200C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.Crumble tofu with hands, not too fine. Add to a bowl. Season with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 twists pepper, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
- Mix with a spoon, then transfer to baking sheet, spread out, and bake for 15 minutes. In the meantime make the sauce.
Make the sauce
- To a large non-stick pan, add the olive oil, finely chopped onion, celery, and carrot. You can use a food processor instead of chopping them by hand.Gently fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add canned tomatoes, soy sauce, salt and black pepper. Stir and let simmer on medium to low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt.
- Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water as per package directions.
- When the tofu is done baking, add it to the sauce. Stir in and let simmer for just one more minute. Turn the heat off, add fresh basil or chopped parsley if you like, and serve on your favorite pasta.