Pesto Cauliflower Pasta with Breaded Tofu
Delicious, Easy, Vegan and Gluten-Free Pesto Pasta
This recipe comes from my favorite vegan comfort-food cook book - Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. It's creamy, vibrant and delicious!
Plus it's easy to whip up the kids dinner as well since the cauliflower is boiled in the pasta water. I just leave off the sauce and give them the noodles and cauliflower with breaded tofu. The I would typically add a few carrot sticks and spinach leaves to their plate to complete the meal. But for me, the sauce is absolutely divine!
For the Tofu:
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs (whole wheat if possible)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed between your fingers
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed between your fingers
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
14 ounces extra firm tofu, but into 1/2 inch cubes
Olive oil, or coconut oil, for brushing
For the Pasta and Cauliflower:
8 ounces linguine (for a healthier twist- try quinoa pasta or brown rice pasta)
1 medium head cauliflower (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
1 batch of Pesto
For the Pesto:
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts or cashews
3 cups loosely packed fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup veggie broth
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
For the pesto: Pulse the garlic and pine nuts into coarse crumbs in a food processor. Add the basic, cilantro, salt, broth, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice and puree until smooth. Add water to thin as needed. Taste for salt and finish with black pepper. Place in sealed container until ready to use.
For the tofu: Preheat a large nonstick pan, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. On a dinner plate, use your fingertips to mix together the bread crumbs, thyme, rosemary, basil and garlic. Pour the tamari onto a separate plate.
Place a handful of tofu cubes in the soy sauce and toss to coat. Then dredge them in the bread crumbs, tossing to coat. (use your dry hand to handle the tofu in the bread crumbs, otherwise you'll get a crumb mitten on your hand) Put the coated tofu off to the side of the plate and combine until all the tofu is coated.
Apply a thin layer of olive oil in the pan, and then transfer the tofu cubes to the pan, being careful not to crowd them. Drizzle the tofu with a little oil, and let it cook for a few minutes, then flip, using a thin metal spatula so you don't scrape off the breading. Cook for about 7 minutes total, adding extra oil as needed and flipping occasionally until browned on most sides.
For the Pasta and Cauliflower: Bring a 4-quart pot of salted water to a boil. When water is boiling, add the pasta. After about 4 minutes, add the cauliflower too. Cook for about 8 minutes; the pasta should be done and the cauliflower tender. Drain into a large colander. Immediately add them back to the pout which you used to cook them and mix in the pesto.
Divide into bowls, top with breaded tofu, and serve.