May 12, 2012

Creamy Tomato Vodka Pasta

I've been waiting a long time to have creamy pasta without it being laden with heavy cream or other fatty ingredients. I tried a few versions, our favorite being the Pumpkin Cheeze Sauce that I used for my Cheezy Eggplant Bake. That sauce is delicious, & perfect for anything cheesy, but doesn't help me with my dilemna.

For soups, it's easy to use potatoes to add a creamy thickness. For sauces, however, potatoes just don't seem quite right. I have used ricotta cheese at times, or a bit of cream cheese, but neither really get rid of the heavy dairy that I'd like to avoid. (If I'm having heavy, creamy dairy, I'd like it to be ice cream. Nothing else is worth it!)

When I came across a post on the Edible Perspective for creamy marinara sauce, I knew I'd found my solution! Since one of my favorite creamy sauces is Vodka Sauce, I decided to combine some recipes & work up a new sauce of my own. The result is full of flavor, creamy, & perfect for satisfying our tastebuds. No one will ever guess that you're serving them tofu, but they'll be healthier for it. Tofu adds protein to an otherwise carb rich meal, making it more balanced. Added bonus: you'll stay full longer!

I have a feeling this is going to be a new go-to meal. It doesn't take nearly as long as the lengthy directions imply. The hardest part is chopping up a few veggies!

I hope you try this & enjoy it. Let me know what you think!

Creamy Tomato Vodka Pasta
Inspired by Creamy Marinara Sauce & Vodka Cream Pasta
Serves 4-6

1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno
4 baby bella mushrooms (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup vodka
5 oz. firm tofu*
14 oz. can of tomatoes
8 oz. pasta sauce
3 T nutritional yeast (or sub. parmesan cheese)
1 tsp. dried basil
pinch crushed red pepper
salt & black pepper, to taste
1 c chopped kale
16 oz. (1 lb.) shaped pasta (penne, rigatoni, etc. - I used chiocciole)

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onion & jalapeno. Saute for 3-5 minutes until the onions begin to sweat. Add mushrooms (if using) & garlic; cook until fragrant. Pour in vodka & bring to a simmer. Cook to reduce vodka by about half. 

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.

Using a blender, combine tofu, tomatoes, pasta sauce, nutritional yeast, & basil. Blend until creamy & smooth. Pour mixture into skillet with the vodka & veggies. Season with crushed red pepper, salt, & black pepper to taste. Allow sauce to cook until warm throughout.

Once pasta is done, drain completely & combine with sauce. Serve hot!

*If you have tofu leftover, which you surely will since I haven't found 5 oz. packages anywhere, the best thing to do with it is make dessert! Since you'll need to scale down the ingredients for the amount of tofu you have remaining, I'd recommend using a smaller dish instead of a pie plate. I used small custard cups so that we had single servings ready to grab!


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