Vegan Tofu Bolognese – Ready in 30 mins and damn tasty!
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Vegan Tofu Bolognese. I imagine this is about as far as you can get from the recipe that gave the original dish its name.
Although we thought we’d pissed off the Italians with our quick risotto, this one is taking things a step further.
We swap the meat for tofu, the two hours for thirty minutes (or less) and the egg based pasta for a vegan variety. The awesome taste and enjoyment stay the same.
The good news is that we’re calling this bolognese. In Bologna they’d never even suspect this tofu bolognese had anything to do with the traditional Ragu alla Bolognese.
Instead of strips of old meat like beef that needing softening or pork that had to be used up, we use tofu for an easy but tasty replacement that can be cut into chunks (like our pictures) or crumbled into tiny pieces to give that modern ‘minced effect’ – which also means it’s a lot quicker.
There are no carrots or wine (although I wouldn’t stop you throwing some in) and the pasta doesn’t contain any animal products – certainly, none are necessary.
But you know what? It all works. It all combines to make a hell of a tasty meal, so bollocks to any chefs who say we can’t make it how we want.
Health Benefits – Vegan Tofu Bolognese
Let’s make the much-maligned tofu the star of the health section and put him right in the spotlight. Here’s the crucial question: Is tofu (aka soy) good or bad for you?
After a good amount of research I can honestly say there is no other food article out there causing as much discussion as this one.
There are lovers and there are haters, and interesting arguments from both sides.
In a nutshell, science says that after 5000+ studies soy can replace meat as a protein and it is fairly certain it may reduce cholesterol and it may reduce blood pressure (thanks bon appetit for this comprehensive article). So far so good.
But why do so many people think that soy is the devil?
There are three main reasons:
1. Infertility in men: there is a rumour circulating that men will have a lower sperm quality when consuming too much tasty tofu.
The scientific evidence is inconclusive though, some studies say it may reduce sperm quality, others say they don’t find any evidence.
Tricky stuff, I’d say, and as long as this matter is not resolved then it’s probably best to only eat soy occasionally.
2. NON fermented soy products: they contain phytic acids, which according to some studies reduces your ability to absorb certain nutrients like iron (1).
Neither tofu nor soy milk is fermented. So, ideally you’d want to eat mostly fermented soy products like natto, miso and tempeh.
3. GMO soy products: most studies conclude that it’s not certain that genetically modified soy is causing health problems (2).
But then that means it IS possible that it’s unhealthy. So, make sure you only buy non-GMO-tofu and the like, just to be on the safe side.
So there you have it. Our conclusion after looking into it is this: chill people. If you eat only GMO free, mostly fermented soy products in reasonable amounts, everything’s fine.
As usual, moderation is key. And as to the recipe: I’m sure that this tasty AF Vegan Tofu Bolognese is healthier than any “original” Bolognese (either way, its one of our fave vegan tofu meals so that’s high praise).
But that’s not what the Italians had in mind anyway, was it? 😉
For the pasta
- 5 oz wholewheat pasta (choose your favourite, wholegrain would be best)
For the tofu
- 8 oz firm tofu
- 1 tsp olive oil
For the sauce
- 1 red onion
- 2 clove garlic
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 can tomatoes, diced (~14.5 oz)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 handful basil, fresh (or 2 tbsp frozen or dry basil)
- 1 tsp oregano, dried
- 1 tsp maple syrup (or brown sugar)
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the pasta
- Cook the pasta as instructed. Once finished, add a dash of olive oil, some salt and oregano for taste.5 oz wholewheat pasta
For the tofu
- Dice the tofu into small pieces or crumble it for a mince like effect.8 oz firm tofu
- Heat up oil to medium heat in a large frying pan and add the tofu. Add some salt and let it fry for 15 min or until it’s crunchy. Make sure to stir occasionally, have patience and taste test! If you crumbled it, reduce cooking time by about 3 minutes.1 tsp olive oil
For the sauce
- Dice the onion and garlic into small pieces.1 red onion, 2 clove garlic
- Heat up oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Now pour in the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Let it simmer.1 tsp olive oil, 1 can tomatoes, diced, 2 tbsp tomato paste, 1 handful basil, fresh, 1 tsp oregano, dried, 1 tsp maple syrup, Salt and pepper to taste
- Once everything is ready, stick some pasta on your plate, pour the sauce on top and add the tofu.
If I didn’t have my soy allergy, I would be all about the tofu! I miss it!
Pasta is life!! I don’t know why people hate carbs because I would die without them! For real, I tried going low carb once and I felt like I wanted to die by 2. LOL! This looks amazing!
This pasta looks fabulous! I love tofu.
I love tofu, my all time favorite. But never had them with pasta. Now it’s time to try! Looks delicious:)
Just wanted to let you know I made this exactly as instructed….it was fantastic! I love the texture that the crispy tofu adds. The simplest of ingredients are oftentimes the best! Thank you for the recipe!
Wow, you really created some tension there with the four dots (….), hahaha. but when I continued reading I was relieved 😀
Thanks for the feedback, I’m really glad you liked the recipe. Yep, often times simplicity wins!
What a wonderful dish, this tofu bolognese looks fantastic! I need to try this! 🙂
Is it really 728 cal per serving? That’s a lot!
Hey Rei, yep it goes in that direction. I’d argue any serving of a pasta dish will clock in at that region, probably more 🙂
I added mushroom! So delicious!
Haa, so cool! Thanks for trying out the Bolognese 😀
I just wanted to say thank you! I’ve been vegan for all of three weeks and your recipes have been a god send. My biggest worry about going vegan was feeling like the meals I was eating were “incomplete”, but it is not so! I absolutely love this recipe, and don’t miss the beef at all. So tasty!
The sauce was amazing. but any good alternatives to tofu? I find it a bit boring.
Keep up the good work. If you dig a bit deeper, you’ll find that tofu does not contain phytic acids. It is thus much healthier than soy beans or soy powder that you find in commercial foods.
Thanks Robert, will do! Really glad you liked the bolognese though!
What do I use instead of pasta?
There are decent gluten-free pasta options available in case you’d like to keep the “pasta feel”, but avoid gluten. Otherwise, I think rice is a fair alternative.
This is a really tasty sauce! I’ve made it a couple of times. I eat it with chickpea pasta for added protein. I want to comment on the section of this post about phytic acid, which is present in all beans and legumes and can cause some issues in the digestive tract. Woodstock brand tofu is made from sprouted soy beans, and sprouting helps so break up the phytic acid like fermentation does. It’s like predigesting the beans. Therefore if it’s in stock I will always choose Woodstock brand.
Hi Erin! Awesome, glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for writing. Yes phytic acid is something to think about, though happily I’ve found as long as the beans and legumes are not eaten in excessive amounts, its not a problem. Thanks for the heads up about the tofu!