Pasta Toscana With Crispy Tofu, Kale And Fresh & Dried Cherry Tomatoes

This dish is simply divine. Its comforting, creamy cashew sauce fills the mouth with flavours, the crispy tofu tickles with savoury succulent tones, while the delicate Mediterranean notes of the fresh and sun dried tomatoes, the kale, onion and garlic, bring it all together. One of my most flavoursome recipes yet. So healthy too.

Although there are quite a few ingredients, this is very straight forward to make. And the variety of ingredients is what makes the flavours pop. Please try it, you will not regret it.

Pasta Toscana With Crispy Tofu, Kale And Fresh & Dried Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients:

500g pasta of choice

Sauce:

1 cup soaked raw cashews (in boiling water for 20 min)

1 cup plant based milk (I used soy)

1 cup water

1 heaped tbsp white miso paste

1/4 of a cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp chicken seasoning

1 tsp vegetable stock powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp plain flour

Juice and zest of half a lemon

1 white onion, finely chopped

1 sweet red pepper, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

100ml white wine

1-2 cups of water

4-5 leaves of kale, stalks removed and finely chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes, finely chopped

1/2 a cup sun dried cherry tomatoes, rehydrated and finely chopped*

1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Tofu:

400g firm tofu, pressed

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp chicken seasoning

2 tbsp plant based milk

1/2 tsp corn flour

1/2 a cup of panko bread crumbs

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

First boil the pasta according to package instructions, in salted water, drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.

To make the tofu, preheat the oven at 200C. Slice each block into 1cm thick slices and press for 15 minutes. Mix the soy sauce, chicken seasoning, milk and corn flour in a shallow bowl and place the panko bread crumbs mixed with the nutritional yeast in another. Dip each pressed slice in the marinade, cover it well on all sides, then place in the breadcrumb/nutritional yeast mixture to coat all over. Place on a lined baking tray, towards the top of the oven (but not the very top) and bake of 25-30 minutes, turning once half way. Cut each slice into strips and set aside.

To prepare the sauce, drain the cashews and place in a high speed blender along with the milk, the water, the miso paste, the nutritional yeast, the onion powder, the chicken seasoning, the stock powder, the paprika, the plain flour, the lemon juice and the zest. Blend on high speed for a few minutes until very very creamy and smooth.

In a large frying pan add the onion, the red pepper and a little water and sauté for 3-4 minutes over low heat. Add the garlic and the white wine, put the heat on high and continue to cook until the wine has mostly evaporated. Pour in the cashew mixture and mix well. Lower the heat to medium low. Add enough water to loosen everything, so that you have a lovely pourable yet thick sauce. Throw in the kale and mix until it has wilted. Finally add the dried tomatoes, the fresh cherry tomatoes and the parsley, mix and turn off the heat.

Mix the cooked pasta in the creamy sauce and ladle into serving plates or bowls. Top with the crispy baked tofu and serve immediately. Optionally, sprinkle extra parsley, tomato bits and fresh pepper before serving.

Enjoy!

*To rehydrate sun dried tomatoes, simply soak them in hot water for 10 minutes before using.

This sauce tends to thicken, so leftovers will need some liquid to become creamy again before serving. Once more water is added, check the seasoning in case it needs a little salt due to dilution.

If you have tofu strips for leftovers, you can add them in a nice salad, or in wraps, with hummus and lettuce, they are so versatile, so use your imagination!

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