This healthy and delicious silken tofu pasta sauce is a quick and easy alternative to traditional creamy pasta sauces. Made by blending silken tofu, milk, sauteed onion and garlic, nutritional yeast, and seasonings, you can also customize it with your favorite ingredients.
Add fresh herbs, roasted veggies, or red pepper flakes to make it your own. The best part? This dish comes together in minutes!
Why This Works
- Lighter creamy pasta sauce (no butter and heavy cream)
- Super easy—blend all the sauce ingredients and heat
- No need to make a roux (or flour and butter base)
- Make the sauce while the pasta cooks
- Tons of variations for the sauce
- To reduce prep time, use pre-chopped onion, jarred minced garlic, and/or quick-cooking pasta if desired
Ingredients and Nutrition
For this recipe, choose any type of pasta that you like, from fettuccini to penne to shells.
Customize your pasta to suit any taste or dietary preference. Versatile and satisfying, pasta also provides energy, essential carbs, and fiber. Fortified pasta typically includes folate, B vitamins, and iron.
Whether you prefer whole grain, gluten-free, high-protein, or traditional wheat pasta, this recipe makes for a comforting and delicious meal.
Short on time? Consider using quick-cooking pasta that takes 1 to 3 minutes to cook.
Flavorful and nutritious, onions always go well in a pasta sauce, in my book. Low in calories, they also offer a good amount of nutrients such as the following :
- Vitamin C: This vitamin acts as an antioxidant, offering the body protection from free radical damage. It also helps maintain the health of the skin, bones, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also supports the absorption of iron.
- Potassium: This electrolyte mineral plays a role in the body’s fluid balance, muscle contractions, and nerve function. It also helps with blood pressure regulation and supports heart health.
- B vitamins: These vitamins play a vital role in many bodily functions, including energy production, brain function, and DNA and red blood cell production.
- Antioxidants: These substances found in foods like fruits and vegetables help slow down or prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals come from harmful environmental factors such as smoke and pollutants.
Onions have a distinct taste that can vary depending on the variety, but they generally add a savory and slightly sweet flavor to dishes.
Use any kind of onion you want. For this recipe, I use a yellow onion.
To reduce prep time, you can also use pre-chopped onions. Find pre-chopped onions in the produce section of the grocery store along with other pre-chopped produce or next to the salads or fresh herbs sections.
As part of the onion family, garlic offers a punch of pungent and slightly sweet flavor. Use it to enhance the taste of silken tofu pasta sauce or any pasta sauce or savory dish for that matter.
Garlic contains some nutrients like vitamins and minerals but in small amounts.
Notably, garlic contains antioxidants called organosulfur compounds, such as allicin. These compounds have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, among other potential health benefits.
However, it’s important to note that several studies exploring the potential health benefits of garlic have primarily used garlic supplements, rather than the fresh or dried garlic that you might purchase at a grocery store.
Nonetheless, garlic is a highly flavorful ingredient used in a variety of cuisines around the world. It adds depth of flavor even in small quantities.
Consider using peeled garlic cloves to reduce prep time. You may find peeled garlic cloves in the pre-chopped produce section of the grocery store.
You can also use minced garlic in a jar if that’s more convenient for you. A half-teaspoon of jarred minced garlic is equal to one garlic clove.
Silken tofu is a variation of tofu that has a silky and velvety texture, distinct from the firmer texture of regular tofu.
Both types of tofu come from soybeans, but silken tofu has a higher water content and a different preparation process that results in a smoother consistency.
Silken tofu adds low-calorie creaminess to recipes like sauces, dressings, puddings, and smoothies.
Compared to regular tofu, silken tofu has a higher water content and milder taste. This makes it softer and more delicate in texture.
Also lower in protein compared to regular tofu, a 3-ounce serving of silken tofu provides about 4 to 6 grams of protein and a small amount of nutrients like calcium and iron.
You’ll typically find silken tofu refrigerated next to regular tofu in the grocery store. It may be in the plant-protein, natural foods, or Asian foods sections.
Milk adds some more and richness to the silken tofu pasta sauce. It also offers several essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D as well as protein—depending on the kind you get.
Choosing milk that fits your dietary needs and preferences is easy, as there are many options available, such as cow’s milk, almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, and more.
No matter which type of milk you choose, it will add a delicious and nutritious element to this tasty and healthy pasta sauce.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that people often use in plant-based cooking as a cheese substitute or to add a savory, umami flavor to recipes.
Its cheesy and nutty taste makes it a popular ingredient in sauces. As a versatile ingredient, you can add it to a variety of dishes. Here are some ideas:
- Sprinkle it on popcorn or roasted vegetables for a savory kick.
- Mix it into dips and spreads, such as hummus or guacamole.
- Use it as a seasoning in soups and stews.
- Incorporate it into pasta dishes or sprinkle it on top of pizza.
- Add it to your favorite salad dressing recipe for an extra depth of flavor.
- Use it to make a vegan cheese sauce or sprinkle it on top of vegan or regular mac and cheese.
- Use it as a coating for roasted or air-fried chicken or tofu.
- Stir it into scrambled eggs.
- Add it to homemade bread or savory baked goods for a boost of flavor.
Nutritional yeast also offers the following nutrients :
- High in B vitamins: Manufacturers fortify nutritional yeast with vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, and folate. B vitamins play a role in several bodily functions, as mentioned above in the onion section. The body requires vitamins B12 and folate in particular for the proper development and functioning of the nervous system.
- Protein: A 1/4 cup serving (about 4 tablespoons or 15 grams) of nutritional yeast provides 9 grams of protein.
- Fiber: The same serving size provides 3 grams of fiber.
- Lemon juice
- Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper
- paprika or crushed red pepper flakes for heat (I used paprika in this recipe demo)
- basil or parsley for garnish
Once you get this basic tofu pasta sauce recipe down, change it up by blending in other ingredients to give it a different flavor. Here are a few suggestions:
- Fresh herbs: Consider adding some fresh basil, oregano, or thyme to the sauce. This gives the sauce a bright, herby flavor that complements the creaminess of the tofu.
- Roasted veggies: Try roasting some bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, or zucchini and blending them into the tofu sauce. This adds some sweetness and depth of flavor.
- Roasted bell pepper from a jar: No time to roast veggies? Add a roasted bell pepper straight from the jar.
- Nuts: Add some toasted pine nuts or almonds to give the sauce a nutty flavor and add some crunch.
- Olives: Try blending in some chopped olives or tapenade to give the sauce a salty, savory flavor.
- Roasted garlic: The garlic is sautéed in this recipe, resulting in a more pungent flavor. However, roasting garlic will bring out its sweetness and add a rich, complex flavor to the tofu sauce.
- Sundried tomatoes: Chopped sundried tomatoes impart a tangy, slightly sweet flavor.
- Shredded cheese: Top the combined pasta and sauce with shredded regular or plant-based cheese if you want a cheesier flavor.
Experiment with these ingredients and see which ones you like best.
Special Equipment Used
Use a blender or food processor to easily blend all the ingredients for the pasta sauce. If you don’t have a food processor or blender, an immersion blender or electric hand mixer will also work.
Easily make silken tofu sauce and pasta in a few steps.
1. Cook the pasta
Firstly, cook the pasta according to the package directions and set a timer for the cooking.
2. Cook the garlic and onion
While the pasta cooks, chop the onion and garlic after peeling. Over low to medium heat, heat olive oil in a pan or skillet. Add the chopped onion and garlic to the skillet and sauté until the onions turn translucent.
Be careful if you’re using minced garlic from a jar as they cook quickly and may burn; stir them regularly with a wooden or heat-resistant cooking utensil.
3. Prepare the tofu sauce
Add the cooked onion and garlic to a blender or food processor to prepare the sauce. Don’t wash the pan or skillet yet, just set it aside.
Open the package of silken tofu next to or over the sink to conveniently drain off the excess water it’s packed in. The cover may be a bit of a pain to peel off by hand so use a knife or scissors to make it easier.
Then add the drained silken tofu and remaining ingredients to the blender or food processor. Blend the mixture until it’s well combined. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
4. Combine the sauce and pasta
In the same pan or skillet that was used to cook the onion and garlic, pour the blended sauce and heat it on low to medium for a couple of minutes. Take care not to use high heat, as the sauce might curdle.
Then, mix the cooked pasta with the tofu sauce, ensuring that all of the pasta is coated.
Lastly, serve with a sprinkling of paprika or crushed pepper flakes, or fresh parsley or basil if desired. Enjoy with a side of salad topped with beans or a protein such as chicken or fish.
The sauce will appear thin at first but will thicken as it mixes with the pasta and cools.
Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days. If the sauce is too thick for your liking when you reheat it, add a tablespoon or two of milk to thin it out.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve not used regular tofu for this recipe, but you can try it. Consider cutting the recipe in half to trial it.
Keep in mind that using regular tofu will result in a different texture and taste. Silken tofu has a softer, smoother texture and a milder taste, whereas regular tofu has a firmer texture and a stronger taste.
Overall, the choice between silken tofu and regular tofu will depend on personal preference and the desired outcome of the recipe.
Silken tofu sauce is a versatile condiment that can be used in a variety of dishes beyond pasta. Some examples include:
– Dip for raw vegetables or crackers
– Spread for sandwiches or wraps
– Topping for baked potatoes or sweet potatoes
– Dressing for salads (don’t heat the sauce for this)
– Sauce for stir-fries or roasted vegetables
The possibilities are endless! Get creative with how you use the sauce in your cooking.
To add more protein to your meal, pair it with other plant-based protein sources such as grilled or sautéed regular tofu or tempeh, beans, chickpeas, or lentils. You can also serve it alongside grilled chicken or fish for a non-vegetarian option.
Easy Silken Tofu Sauce and Pasta with Variations
- 1 large pot to cook pasta
- 1 colander to drain cooked pasta
- chopping board
- chef knife
- 1 large pan or skillet
- 1 wooden or heat resistant cooking utensil heat-resistant
- measuring cups and spoons
- 1 blender or food processor
- 1 pound pasta (16 ounces)
- 1 block of silken tofu drained (about 15 ounces)
- 1½ cup milk of your choice
- 1 onion
- 3 garlic cloves (or 1½ teaspoon jarred minced garlic)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon pepper or to taste
Optional: For heat, add to the sauce ingredients ½ to 1 teaspoon paprika or ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. For garnish, add chopped or hand-torn basil or parsley, or a sprinkle of additional paprika or crushed red pepper flakes.
- Cook pasta according to the package directions. Set a timer for cooking the pasta.
- While the pasta is cooking, peel and chop the onion and garlic. Heat the olive oil in a pan or skillet over low to medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and sauté them until the onions turn translucent. If you're using minced garlic from a jar, keep a close eye and move the garlic around with a wooden or heat-resistant cooking utensil as they cook quickly and may burn.
- Prepare the sauce by adding the cooked onion and garlic to the blender or food processor. Place the pan or skillet to the side (don't wash it yet!) Cut open the package of silken tofu by the sink to easily drain off the excess water it's packed in. Using a knife or scissors will make it easier to open. Add the drained silken tofu and all the remaining ingredients to the blender or food processor. Blend until well combined. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings if desired.
- Pour the tofu sauce back into the pan or skillet you used to cook the onion and garlic. Heat on low to medium for about a couple of minutes. Make sure the heat is not too high or the sauce might curdle a bit.
- Combine the cooked pasta with the sauce, coating all the pasta. Serve with an optional sprinkling of paprika or crushed pepper flakes, or fresh basil or parsley.
Tried this recipe? What variations or adaptations did you make? Share in the comments.