Winter afternoons and cool spring evenings call for meals that are warm and comforting, but not overly heavy. This Tofu Ricotta Pasta Bake with Broccoli Rabe fits the bill in my house.
My girls have been known to steal little squares of tofu before they are cooked while I'm preparing a stir fry, but I realize that not every household is tofu-loving. So if you live in a tofu-phobic household and have been looking for a fun way to introduce tofu that is truly family friendly, this is one to try!
This dish works great with brown rice pasta, so if gluten-free pasta is new to you too, this dish could do double duty in introducing that too.
It's also an easy way to work in some greens! Specifically, broccoli rabe.
Could one dish really do all that?
There's a lot of conflicting info out there about tofu and it's something I usually get questions about. I advise my clients that tofu is a great source of protein, calcium and Vitamin E that also helps reduce your bad cholesterol, but that it should always be purchased organic to avoid GMOs and pesticides.
Tofu eaten in childhood has also been shown to reduce a woman's chances of getting breast cancer. So I'm very happy my girls like it.
In this dish, tofu gets dressed up as ricotta cheese with the addition of lemon juice, basil, nutritional yeast and a dash of salt. So you could even serve this dish without uttering the word tofu. Or just wait until all the plates at the table are empty. ;)
If you buy nutritional yeast for this dish and don't know what else to do with it, check out my recipe for Eat the Whole Bowl Popcorn or Easy Eggplant Parmesan Casserole, which also uses the same Brazil nut parmesan I use here. My family is absolutely crazy for it.
SOMEONE could barely wait to eat this while I was taking photos...
Tofu Ricotta Pasta Bake with Broccoli Rabe
12 ounce package of brown rice pasta
1 bunch of broccoli rabe
1 tsp olive oil
8 ounces of button or cremini mushrooms
25 ounce jar of marinara sauce (look for sugar-free, oil-free)
14 oz package of extra firm tofu
1 tsp dried basil
3 1/2 TB nutritional yeast, divided
1 3/4 tsp fine sea salt, divided
½ lemon, juiced (about 1 ½ TB)
1/4 C raw Brazil nuts (or cashews)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Preheat the oven to 375F and fill a large pasta pot with water and set on the stove on medium high heat.
Wash the broccoli rabe and cut into 1” sections, discarding any overly tough stalks. Slice the mushrooms into ¼” slices.
Drain the tofu and squeeze gently in a clean kitchen towel. Place tofu in a medium-sized bowl and use a fork to mash it up into a crumbly texture. Add the basil, 2 TB nutritional yeast, ½ tsp sea salt and the lemon juice. Stir to mix.
In a food processor, combine the Brazil nuts, remaining 1 1/2 TB nutritional yeast, 1/4 tsp sea salt and the garlic powder. Process until you have a uniform mixture and no large pieces of nuts remain.
When the water comes to a boil, add the remaining tsp of salt and the pasta to the water. Cook according to the package directions, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. When there is 3 minutes of cooking time remaining for the pasta, add the broccoli rabe to the pot. When the pasta is done, drain the pasta and broccoli rabe into a colander and set aside. Return the pasta pot to the stove and add the olive oil. Heat over medium heat and then add the mushrooms, cooking until they are softened.
When the mushrooms are done, add the pasta and broccoli rabe, the tofu mixture and the marinara sauce to the pot. Mix until combined, but remember to leave the tofu “ricotta” chunky.
Pour the mixture into a glass casserole dish (9x13” works) and sprinkle the Brazil nut parmesan on top. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly browned at the top.
Alternatively, if you're short on time, heat the whole mixture right in the pot on the stove. Serve when it's heated through, with the Brazil nut parmesan on the side for everyone to sprinkle on themselves.
* If you're interested in more delicious recipes, menus and shopping lists, as well as video instruction all designed to inspire you to eat more leafy greens, be sure to sign up for a free trial of my online course, Green Your Plate, Change Your Life.