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 (1). 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 (2). 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 (3). 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. But that’s not what the Italians had in mind anyway, was it? 😉
- 1 pack of firm tofu (400g) - GMO free, fermented
- 250g of your favourite pasta
- 1 red onion
- 2 small cloves of garlic (or one big one)
- 1 small can of chopped tomatoes (14.5 oz/ 425g)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- A good handful of fresh basil (or 2 tbsp frozen or dry basil)
- Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp brown sugar or maple syrup
- 3 tbsp of olive oil for frying
- For the Pasta: cook the pasta as instructed. Once finished, add a tbsp of olive oil and some salt and oregano for taste.
- For the sauce: peel and dice the onion and garlic into small pieces.
- Heat up one tbsp of oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Now pour in the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, 1 tsp brown sugar, salt and pepper. Let it simmer.
- For the tofu: dice the tofu into small pieces or crumble it for a mince like effect.
- Heat up 2 tbsp of 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 occasionally! If you crumbled it, reduce cooking time by about 3 minutes.
- Once everything is ready, stick some pasta on your plate, pour the sauce on top and add the tofu.