Pasta with Tofu Tomato Cream Sauce

Although I would guess that there are many such recipes out there, this is one that I created while experimenting with tofu and jarred pasta sauce.  It’s been a bit of a miracle for me, because I love anything with “cream” in the title.  It’s just that my lactose intolerance doesn’t allow me to eat most of it!  This sauce gives me the taste and texture of of a great tomato cream (think Indian butter chicken) with an Italian taste.  Better yet, the family loves it — not just tolerates it as a vegan recipe, but really loves it!  Experiment with it yourself and see what happens.  If you like it, let me know.

Cream sauce shown over rice penne

Cream sauce shown over rice penne


*Please note:  This recipe is substitute-friendly!  See alternates listed.

1 jar (24 oz.) tomato-based pasta sauce  (used Tomato Basil Priano brand from Aldi)

About 8 oz. pasta of choice (used Tinkyada Brown Rice Penne)

1/2 block drained refrigerated extra-firm tofu to equal about 8 oz.  (If you use Mori-Nu, use the entire box)

1/2 c. vegetable broth or water (Mori-Nu users, you may not need to add liquid due to softer texture)

2 portabello mushroom caps, stems cut and discarded (you may use a container of baby bellas if you can’t find the large caps)

1 medium to large onion, any white or yellow variety

1 t. minced garlic

1-2 T. olive oil

1 T. butter (use Earth Balance or other butter substitute for vegan version, or add olive oil as needed)

1 t. salt (use 1/2 t. if you are salt-sensitive)

1 T. sugar (or agave nectar, sucunat, honey, or sweetener of choice) — this cuts the acidic bite of the sauce

Optional – finish with Italian seasoning (used Pennzey’s Tuscan Sunset) or nutritional yeast — or Parmesan cheese for non-vegans such as my husband.

Begin to prepare pasta according to package directions. As you are making the sauce, drain pasta and reserve.  Add olive oil and butter to saute pan and warm over medium heat.  Slice onion into thin strips/rings (chop if preferred) and add to pan.  Increase heat to medium high to brown and slightly caramelize onion.  While the onion is cooking, slice the portabello caps down the middle (in half), then slice into thin strips about 1/4 inch thick or less.  Add garlic to pan and stir.  Add mushrooms and continue browning.  Reduce to heat to medium as you prepare the sauce.

Cut or crumble the tofu into a blender.  Add the jarred sauce, vegetable broth, salt, and sugar.  Blend until all ingredients are smooth.  (In the Blendtec this took 30-45 seconds.)  When the mushroom, onion, and garlic mixture is browned to your satisfaction, add the tofu sauce mixture to the pan.  Reduce heat to medium low.  You want to warm the sauce thoroughly without overcooking the tofu.  Stir periodically until warmed through, and serve with your reserved pasta.  Enjoy!  Feel free to try adaptations to this simple base sauce.  The next time I make it, I’ll stir it in with gluten-free spaghetti, and perhaps I’ll add a seasonal vegetable.  It’s versatile!

Note sauce in Blendtec on the side

Note sauce in Blendtec on the side

Sauce combined and warming

Sauce - Aldi Pasta via Wegmans or

Sauce – Aldi
Pasta via Wegmans or


Speedy Garlic Pasta Sauce with Roma Tomatoes and Basil

Thanks to “deannarama” for posting the foundation for this recipe at  The recipe (with a few adaptations) is noted below.  While this isn’t a complicated recipe, it is beautiful and satisfying in its simplicity.  At this time of year, I want my cooking to be fast, the meals to be light and fresh, and the recipes to incorporate local produce.  This one does it all!


pasta of your choice ( I use gluten-free pasta, and for this version it was Mai-Fun Rice Vermicelli), about 8 oz. for this amount of sauce

1/4 cup reserved pasta water

3 T. olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic, minced ( I used two)

2 small to medium roma tomatoes, diced into 1/4 to 1/2 in. chunks

2 T. chopped basil

1/4 t. red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste


Prepare pasta according to package directions and set aside.  (For rice vermicelli, this often means just soaking in hot water for 1o minutes!)  Saute the garlic in the olive oil until soft but not browned.  Slightly golden is okay.  Add in the red pepper flakes, then stir in the tomatoes and basil just to warm.  Do not allow the skins to begin to peel from the tomatoes.  Stir in the pasta and reserved cooking water and toss to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

Note that you can adjust the proportions to adapt to the amount of pasta you want to make.  This could have served four, but as it turns out, I had a small portion in the evening, with plans to have some for lunch the next day.  (I love leftovers.)  That never happened.  My husband ate the entire container for his lunch, which I suppose should be considered a compliment.  I made do with avocado toast (salted with red pepper flakes), and enjoyed that greatly as well.

A variation to try — saute baby bella mushrooms and add them in — either alone or with the recipe above.  The addition of mushrooms with this garlic sauce is heaven to the taste buds!

One variation on this versatile sauce!

One variation on this versatile sauce!





White Bean, Basil, and Lime Dip

I’ll admit — I got the idea to try this recipe from a trip to Trader Joe’s.  I don’t know what Trader Joe’s puts in their dip — I just saw the container and thought, “Hmmm, that’s interesting!”  However, I kept on walking and didn’t buy it.  Later, I thought I might try experimenting on my own, and in my opinion, it was a great success.  My  10 year-old son, Samuel, pronounced, “I love it!”  Good enough for me.

1 15.5 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed (I used cannellini, but I may try great northern next time…it’s in my pantry)

2 T. olive oil

juice from 1 whole small lime, or about 2 T.

2 T. chopped fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste ( I used about 1/2 t. salt and 3 turns on the pepper grinder)

As with hummus, use a food processor or high speed blender to mix the ingredients to a smooth consistency.  I did not need to add any extra water to thin this dip, but if you want to decrease the olive oil to 1 T. and experiment with adding 1 T. water to decrease calories, give it a whirl!

While the consistency comes out a bit like hummus, the taste has a lighter and more citrus-y feel.  Nice for summer!

No-Tahini Hummus

Ok, let’s keep it simple for the first post.  For vegans, I suppose that a recipe for hummus is like a recipe for boiled water.  Rookies have to start somewhere!

Why no tahini?  Well, there’s nothing wrong with tahini…it has healthy oils and a nice sesame flavor.  It’s just that it adds extra fat and calories, and to be quite honest, I like the way this hummus tastes without it.  If I like the taste without adding it, I figure I don’t really need it.  Feel free to modify this to your heart’s content.

1 (15.5 oz) can of chickpeas (garbonzo beans) drained and rinsed — I like Goya brand
2 T. extra virgin olive oil (to start)
2 T. lemon juice (about 1/2 fresh lemon)
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. fresh-ground pepper (about 4 turns on your grinder…keep it somewhat coarse)
water — added to thin to desired consistency

Combine ingredients (except water) in a food processor or high-speed blender (ex. BlendTec).  After the initial processing of a minute or so, scrape down the sides and determine if you need to add a tablespoon of water or so to thin the mixture.  Continue to process/blend until the mixture is very smooth — it may almost seem a bit fluffy when it’s just right.  Taste test often!  I like mine on the salty side, and I like the zing of cracked pepper, too!  Add what you need. Serve with tortilla chips or veggies, or use as a sandwich spread with some fresh cucumbers.  If you’re not going gluten-free, try pitas.

Experiment!  Add fresh parsley from your garden.  Roast or saute some garlic and throw it in.  Have some fun.

A Work in Progress!

I created this blog on July 10, 2013 as a way to chronicle my vegan journey.  Although I hope to be a true vegan one day, I’m not there yet.  If you share similar hopes…or just want to poke around and see what’s here, feel free!
Please be patient.  It’s one day at a time, and I’ll write as my work and family schedule allows.  Happy reading.