August 6, 2014
Cauliflower Pesto with Crispy Tofu

Cauliflower Pesto Pasta! Creamy, dairy-free pesto-cauliflower sauce with crispy seared tofu and whole-wheat pasta.
Cauliflower Pesto Pasta! Creamy, dairy-free pesto-cauliflower sauce with seared tofu and whole-wheat pasta Let me introduce you to your new favorite dinner:

Crispy tofu
Whole wheat noodles
Creamy pesto sauce that only tastes decadent

Because once you start making sauces out of cauliflower… you can’t stop. Won’t stop. I’ve been transforming all of our pasta dishes to this cauliflower based sauce. So delicious, so easy, so creamy. Sigh, like I needed another reason to eat more pasta.

Between my cauliflower and cashew based sauces, we may never eat dairy again.

Cauliflower Pesto Pasta! Creamy, dairy-free pesto-cauliflower sauce with seared tofu and whole-wheat pasta

To give this dish a little more staying power, I added crispy tofu to it. This is one of my favorite ways to prepare tofu and even BL- a tofu hater- enjoys it like this.

First, press out all the water. You are already doing this for all your tofu recipes, right? It’s key for whatever you plan on doing next. Use a fancy tofu-press or wrap the tofu in paper towels and add a heavy weight on top.

Now, slice the tofu. I like using thin rectangle slabs when I top pasta!

Gather your breadcrumbs and place on a plate. Milk goes in a separate bowl.

I always, always use my cast iron pan for frying tofu. It’s hands down the best tool I’ve found for getting a crispy tofu crust. The great news? They are fairly inexpensive ($25). If you use another type of pan, you might have to adjust the oil amounts.

Add the tofu to a hot pan and fry 2-3 minutes per side. If the tofu starts to stick, add a little oil.

Cauliflower Pesto Pasta! Creamy, dairy-free pesto-cauliflower sauce with seared tofu and whole-wheat pasta

Be prepared to lick the sauce out of the blender while you wait for your pasta to cook and your tofu to crisp. Better yet, make sure to have some crusty bread ready to dip while you watch your pasta water boil. It’s what I do 99% of the time when I am making pasta, and really, it’s the perfect appetizer.

BL and I usually crowd around the sauce, whether in saucepan or the blender, bumping elbows while trying to enjoy hunks of bread covered in homemade sauce. It’s marital bonding at it’s finest.

Cauliflower Pesto Pasta! Creamy, dairy-free pesto-cauliflower sauce with seared tofu and whole-wheat pasta

Toss the pasta with enough sauce to coat and add the tofu! Don’t hesitate to channel your inner Ina Garten after you’ve finished plating and exult, “How Easy is That?!”

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking! 

Print
Creamy dairy-free sauce- using Cauliflower! Taste just like traditional white sauces- with 1/4 of the fat and calories. Cauliflower Pesto Sauce with Crispy Tofu.

Cauliflower Pesto Pasta with Crispy Tofu

  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Dish

Description

Love creamy sauces but don’t love all the saturated fat and calories? Cauli-power to the rescue! A light, almost-fat-free sauce that taste just as creamy as the original


  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. butter (I used dairy-free Earth Balance but you could use oil/coconut oil as well)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp. raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or parm. cheese for non-vegan option)
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • salt/pepper (depends if you use vegetable broth or water)
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 lb. whole wheat pasta
  • For crispy tofu:
  • 1 package. tofu, pressed and sliced in 1/2″ slabs
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened milk (I use almond milk)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the cauliflower and cook for 5-7 minutes until tender.
  3. In a high-powered blender, add the basil leaves, cashews, nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt/pepper and cooked cauliflower.
  4. Bring the remaining water back to a boil and cook the pasta.
  5. While the cauliflower is cooking, heat 2 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and quickly stir, taking care not to burn.
  6. Add the melted butter and garlic to the blender along with the vegetable broth and puree on high until creamy. You want it to be creamy and not too thin. If you need more vegetable broth, add 1 tbsp. at a time.
  7. While the pasta is cooking, make the tofu. Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, preferably a cast iron pan.
  8. Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl, the milk in a separate shallow bowl.
  9. Dip a slab of tofu into the milk and then into the breadcrumbs, pressing the crumbs into the tofu to stick.
  10. When the pan is hot, add the tofu and sear 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown. If the tofu starts to stick, add a bit of olive oil between each set.
  11. To serve, toss the pasta with 2 cups of the sauce, adding more if needed. Top with sliced tofu.

Notes

For gluten-free option, use gluten-free pasta and breadcrumbsSalt amount will depend on how salty your vegetable broth is, start with a pinch and go from there For vegan, use Earth Balance butter or similar This may seem like alot of steps, but it comes together pretty quickly. While you cook the cauliflower, prep all the sauce ingredients. Then, make the tofu while you cook the pasta.

did you make this?

Tag @delishknowledge on Instagram and hashtag it #delishknowledge

 

Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

12 comments
LEAVE A COMMENT
  1. Wait, I am confused? You say it’s dairy-free but I see butter and milk in this recipe??

    That being said, I would ditch em! I am totally going to try my hand at CAULIFLOWER pesto, totally new and unique to me 🙂 🙂

    • Well… I use Earth Balance Butter (dairy free) and almond milk but if you wanted to use coconut oil/oil or water/broth you could too! Let me know if you make it!

  2. I’ve never really had tofu (does a bite of Chipotle’s sofritas count?), but this looks amazing! Crispy, crunchy and a perfect complement to the pasta.

  3. This looks so good! I’ve been on a tofu kick lately and playing around with various marinades has been really fun. I will definitely be trying this out!

leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.