This Vegan Pesto Tofu Pasta is about to be your new favorite weeknight meal! With crispy baked tofu, a homemade vegan pesto sauce, & fettuccine pasta- this vegan, oil-free, & dairy-free dish is true dinner perfection!
Add in al dente noodles & crispy baked tofu and you have a filling vegan dinner recipe!
- Tofu: It's best to use extra-firm tofu for baking. While pressing it before baking gets rid of some of the moisture, extra- firm tofu has less moisture in it to begin with which makes it easy to crisp in the oven. Firm tofu will also work for this recipe, but avoid soft or silken tofu.
- Cashews: There isn't a good substitute for cashews in the pesto sauce as they really provide a lot of the creamy texture. If you can't eat nuts, check out this nut-free pesto sauce instead.
How to make pesto pasta with crispy tofu
Soak the cashews
This helps to soften the cashews and makes it easier to blend them into a smooth sauce.
While some recipes call for soaking the cashews in cold water for 6-8 hours, I find soaking the cashews in boiling water for 30 minutes leads to pretty similar results. This way, you can soak the cashews while the tofu is baking and pasta is cooking.
Cook the tofu until crispy
The first step in this recipe is to press the tofu. Then, cut it into cubes and add it to a bowl with the cornstarch, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, dried basil, salt, & pepper.
Mix it until the tofu is well coated, then add it to a parchment-lined baking sheet. You want to make sure the tofu is in a single layer and not overlapping so it bakes evenly.
Then, add the basil tofu to the oven and bake at 400F for 40 minutes. I recommend flipping halfway through so the tofu crisps up on all sides.
This dish is oil-free, but if you want even crispier basil tofu you can add a little oil to coat.
Cook the pasta
While the tofu is baking, cook the pasta until al dente. I decided to use fettuccine for this dish, but any shape noodle will work!
Just make sure to buy egg-free pasta to keep this dish vegan. Most dried pasta's are vegan, but it's always good to double-check.
Make the vegan pesto sauce
Once the cashews are soaked, tofu is baked, and pasta is done it's time to make the vegan pesto pasta sauce.
Luckily, it's as easy as adding all the ingredients to a blender and blending until smooth.
To make this vegan pesto pasta creamy we're using cashews. To give it a cheesy flavor, we are using nutritional yeast. To give it that classic pesto flavor we are using pine nuts & basil. And to tie it all together we're adding in salt for flavor and water to thin it out enough to be a creamy sauce.
Add pesto to pasta
Add the blended vegan pesto to the pot with the cooked pasta. Then, stir until the noodles are coated.
Top with tofu & serve
To serve, top the pasta with the crispy baked tofu and fresh basil. If you want, making a homemade vegan parmesan is also a great topping for this tofu pesto pasta!
This pesto pasta with tofu ends up being a nourishing and high protein dish. It's easy to make gluten-free and each serving has around 26 grams of protein too!
FAQ & Tips:
You definitely want to use firm tofu or extra-firm tofu when baking tofu. It leads to the crispiest tofu.
This pasta can be stored in a closed container for 3-4 days in the fridge or up to 1 month in the freezer. Just reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed throughout before serving.
I can't wait for you to try this Vegan Pesto Tofu Pasta! It's dairy-free, oil-free, & can easily be made gluten-free to be a great dinner option for everyone. Enjoy this delicious vegan pasta!
More vegetarian pasta recipes you will love:
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Vegan Pesto Tofu Pasta
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Prep the ingredients by pressing the tofu between two towels/paper towels to release any excess water and soaking the cashews in a bowl of boiling water.
- After the tofu is pressed, cut it into cubes and add to a bowl. Add the seasoning to the bowl including the nutritional yeast, cornstarch, salt, dried basil, garlic powder, and pepper. Then, mix everything together until the tofu is well coated. Since the tofu still has some moisture, the seasoning should stick to it easily, but if it does not use your hands to rub it in.
- Next, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the marinated tofu onto the tray. Make sure the tofu is in a single layer so it bakes evenly.
- Add the tray of tofu to the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until crispy. For the best results, remove the tray at the 20 minute mark and flip the tofu over so it bakes evenly.
- While the tofu is baking, cook the pasta according to the package instructions until it is al dente. Then, strain and add back to the pot for later.
- Once the tofu and pasta are cooked, make the vegan pesto by adding the strained & soaked cashews to a blender with the fresh basil, water, garlic, nutritional yeast, pine nuts, lemon juice, and salt. Blend until a smooth sauce forms.
- Pour the vegan pesto sauce into the pot of cooked noodles and stir until coated. Then, serve the pasta with two heaping scoops of crispy basil tofu on top. If desired, top the pasta with toasted pine nuts & vegan parmesan cheese. Serve & enjoy!
- Only firm or extra firm tofu will work in this recipe. Soft/silken tofu will never get crispy or how their shape when cubed.
- Leftover pasta can be stored in a closed container for 3-4 days in the fridge or up to 1 month in the freezer. Just reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed throughout before serving.
- This dish was made to be oil-free, but for an even creamier pesto add 1 Tablespoon oil to the sauce and for crispier tofu add 1 Tablespoon oil to the marinade.