Monday, November 19, 2012

Creamy Marinara Sauce (I Can't Believe It's Dairy-free!)

The leftover dilemma continues, with this week's excess ingredients being tomato puree (from the harira) and half a block of tofu. It was never my intention to combine both leftover ingredients into one dish. However, in my search for inspiration for either of the ingredients, I came across a recipe that incorporated both—a creamy marinara sauce...that's dairy-free. Rather than the aid of cream or cheese (like ricotta or mascarpone), the sauce uses tofu to give it a creamy quality. I'll be honest, I was skeptical with the combination at first, but thought, what the heck! I might as well experiment with leftover ingredients for the fun of it.

Creamy Marinara Sauce (Dairy-free)

This sauce is so easy to make, and perfect for a busy weeknight. You basically throw all your ingredients into your food processor, give it a whirl, and you have your sauce! It's also very basic, since you're starting with the raw basics (tofu and tomato puree), which makes it very versatile as you can adjust to the flavours your family likes in their pasta sauce. I often like to add spicy Italian sauce into my pasta dishes, so I added some chilli flakes and fennel seeds to the food processor, along with some garlic cloves, basil, and oregano. If you're in a serious time crunch, open up a bottle of your favourite marinara sauce instead and toss it in the food processor with the tofu.

Creamy Marinara Fettucine with Kale

If you're wondering how the tofu factors into the sauce, you won't be able to detect it at all taste-wise (so your picky eaters need not worry). The resulting texture is similar to if you had added ricotta to the sauce instead, so if you do have any vegans in your house, this is a great sauce to make.

Once you have your sauce ready, cook your pasta while you heat up your sauce, then toss the cooked pasta with said sauce and any other stuff you'd like to add to your pasta (sausage or meat of choice, mushrooms, spinach, etc.). Your family won't even notice the cheese is missing!

Creamy Marinara Fettucine with Kale

Creamy Marinara Sauce
Adapted from Edible Perspective
Serves 4

7 oz block extra firm tofu, drained
1 1/2 cups tomato puree
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or a handful of fresh basil)
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated parmiggiano-reggiano (optional)

In a food processor bowl, add the drained tofu, marinara sauce, garlic, oregano, basil, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper, and cheese (if using). Blend until creamy and smooth, about 30 seconds. Taste and add more seasonings, if desired.

The sauce will keep in your refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 days. The sauce is quite thick, so when you are reheating it, reserve some of the pasta cooking water, and add to the sauce before you toss with the pasta (I also like to add a splash of red wine for added flavour).


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