Quick, easy, and budget-friendly, Creamy Pasta and Tofu is the perfect weeknight dinner. Kid-friendly and made with healthy ingredients. This vegan pasta dinner is loaded with plant-based protein and hits the spot every time. Gluten-free option.
You need just a handful of ingredients, and less than 30 minutes to make this creamy pasta and tofu recipe. The tofu is cooked in an air fryer or baked until perfectly crispy. It is then tossed with a luxuriously creamy vegan sauce, and served with al-dente cooked pasta, for a winner dinner.
- Tofu - Use extra firm tofu for this recipe. It has the least amount of moisture and gets the most crispy. Medium-firm tofu also works, but it will not brown as easily. Press the tofu beforehand, or try to find superfirm or sprouted tofu that is pre-pressed. Nasoya and Wildwood are the brands I use.
- Tamari - Use tamari, coconut aminos, or soy sauce. Try to find the reduced sodium options, as they will be less salty.
See the recipe card for quantities.
For the creamy dairy-free pasta sauce:
- Nondairy milk - The sauce is dairy-free. Make sure to use unsweetened nondairy milk. Otherwise, the pasta sauce will end up too sweet.
- Flour - Wholewheat, wholewheat pastry, and all-purpose flour will work in this recipe. Or use cornstarch or arrowroot instead for gluten-free.
- Oil - One of the benefits of using an air fryer is that it is not necessary to use oil. However, a little goes a long way in getting the most desirable crispiness and texture for the tofu.
- Miso - Miso is a fermented paste that adds a salty umami flavor. Be sure to dissolve it fully in water before adding it to the skillet. Otherwise, there will be chunks of miso in the sauce, which is never a good thing! Use white or mellow miso. This type of miso is fermented for a shorter time and has the mildest flavor.
- Broccoli - Instead of broccoli, use cauliflower, asparagus, or green peas. Or add baby spinach directly to the sauce at the end, and warm until just wilted.
- Tofu - Use tempeh instead. See this How to Cook Tempeh post for how to prepare the best tempeh.
- Tamari - use soy sauce or coconut aminos instead
- Spices - Switch up the seasoning mix for the tofu as desired. Try Italian seasoning, cajun seasoning, or other spices you have on hand.
- Flour - use wholewheat, wholewheat pastry, or all-purpose flour
- Pasta - use wholegrain for a healthier meal
📖 How to Make Creamy Pasta and Tofu
Step 1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet until al dente. The pasta will continue to cook in the sauce, so make sure not to overcook it.
Step 2. Cut the broccoli into bite-size florets. Steam the florets until they are just fork-tender. Be careful not to overcook them. Blanching the cooked broccoli in ice water gets it even greener, but it also washes away valuable nutrients.
Step 3. Meanwhile, prepare the tofu.
Be gentle when tossing so the cubes do not crumble. Evenly coat the cubes with the cornstarch mixture. The oil is optional, but it helps the tofu to brown more easily.
Step 4. Transfer the cubes to the air fryer tray or large nonstick baking sheet. Place the tofu in a single layer without overcrowding.
Either air fry or bake the cubes until crispy.
Step 5. Meanwhile, make the vegan roux. A roux is a mixture of flour and fat used to thicken sauces and soups. Traditionally, it is made with butter, but this vegan version uses oil instead.
Start by heating the oil. Then add the flour and stir constantly. It is essential to keep stirring so the roux does not burn. Add the nondairy milk and continue to stir.
Stir the sauce constantly over medium-low heat to prevent any lumps from forming. Dissolve the miso in water, and add it to the sauce. Stir to incorporate.
Step 6. Add the tofu, steamed broccoli, and the desired amount of pasta to the sauce.
Heat gently over medium-low heat until warmed through. Serve immediately.
💡 Expert Tips
- Cook the tofu in batches if they do not fit in a single layer. Overcrowding the tofu will make it steam instead of brown.
- Air fryer tofu - Air fryers vary in cooking time. In the Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven AirFryer, it took 10 minutes at 400ºF for the tofu to reach the perfect crispiness. This time may vary depending on the brand of air fryer.
- Baked tofu - If you do not own an air fryer, baking the tofu works great too. Place the cubes on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 425ºF for about 20 minutes, or until crispy.
- Completely dissolve the miso in water before adding it to the sauce. Lumps of miso do not taste good.
- Storage for sauce: The creamy sauce tastes best when served immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Add water to reheat until it has the desired texture.
- Store leftover tofu and broccoli in a separate container in a separate container from the sauce for up to 4 days. Reheat in a toaster oven or conventional oven.
🙋🏽♀️ Recipe FAQs
Make a roux using flour instead. A roux is a cooked paste of flour and fat (butter, oil, lard, shortening) used to thicken sauces and other liquid mixtures like stews and soups. This recipe uses a vegan roux to thicken the sauce.
Roux is commonly made with flour, but you can also substitute the flour in this recipe with cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Mix the cornstarch or arrowroot powder with water to form a slurry before adding it to the pan and cooking it with the oil.
You can add hot broth to the roux if you are thickening a soup or gravy, or add hot plant-based milk like soy milk, oat milk, almond milk, or coconut milk if you are making a vegan cheese sauce or white gravy.
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Creamy Pasta and Tofu
- 8 oz dry pasta (½ 16-ounce packet)
- 1 medium head broccoli cut into bite-size florets (about 2 ½ cups)
- 7 ounces extra firm tofu (½ 14-ounce block) pressed, cut into ¾-inch cubes
- ½ tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil or neutral flavored oil (optional)
For the Sauce:
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour, or cornstarch
- 2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk
- 1 tablespoon white miso dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
- Dash of garlic powder
- Dash of onion powder
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta according to packet directions until al dente.
- Steam the broccoli florets with a tight fitting lid for about 3 minutes, or until just tender.
- Season tofu: Transfer the tofu to a medium bowl. Add the tamari. Toss to combine. Add the cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and oil. Toss until the tofu is evenly coated.
- Cook tofu: Air fry in a single layer at 400ºF for 10 minutes. Toss and cook for about 2 minutes more, or until crispy.Alternatively, bake at 425ºF for 20 minutes.
- Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk vigorously for 1 minute, or until fully incorporated. Add the nondairy milk and stir to combine. Add the dissolved miso and cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened to the desired consistency, stirring constantly. Mix in the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
- Combine and serve: Mix in the tofu and broccoli. Add the desired amount of pasta. Serve immediately.
- For gluten-free - Use cornstarch instead of flour for the creamy sauce, and use gluten-free pasta.
- Cook the tofu in an air fryer or bake on a large nonstick sheet in a single layer. Both will work equally well.
- Stir the cream sauce frequently so that no lumps form.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is an ESTIMATE only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe.