Spicy, lemon-y tofu pasta salad

This recipe is really easy and can be thrown together for a quick dinner or served the next day either warmed up or cold. Either way, it’s a meal that feels light but is secretly packed with protein, and the lemon and spices make it perfect for either the start of spring or a winter that you wish would just end already!

I have been using tofu here in Jerusalem where it tends to be a little more dense than the tofu I could find at home in Texas, so I did not press the tofu at all before cooking it in this recipe. That decision is up to you, though I wouldn’t give the tofu a full 1-hour press like some of the other recipes call for. You want the tofu to be nice and moist inside, but not a nasty soggy block with no flavor.

The most important part is the spice blend. Five spice blend (also called “Chinese Five Spice” but I’m not sure if that’s okay so I’m just calling it “five spice”) is made from different ratios of ground cloves, fennel seed, star anise, cinnamon, and Szechuan peppers. These flavors are very important because they give the dish a depth of flavor without muddying the palate.

Basically, that’s my pretentious way of saying that I didn’t go overboard with spices this time. You want food to taste like it has flavor without it being a survey of everything in your spice cabinet… I should take note.

Tofu Pasta Salad

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 5-6 button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 red pepper, cut into strips
  • 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1″ ginger, julienned
  • 1/2 kilo tofu, drained and lightly pressed
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 cups cooked pasta
  • oil for sautéing
  • sesame seeds for topping (optional)

Pasta Salad Dressing

  • 2 tbs honey
  • 2 stalks green onions, chopped
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • crushed pepper flakes (optional)

Tofu Marinade

  • 1 tbs Five Spice Blend
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sriracha (optional)

Marinate cubed tofu in five spice blend and soy sauce.

Heat oil in a pan or wok. Saute onions, garlic, mushrooms, and peppers for three minutes, while stirring. Add the tofu, ginger, and lemon juice and mix everything together in the pan. Allow to cook, undisturbed, for 5 minutes and then stir again. Cook until the liquid is boiled down and the tofu has begun to firm.

Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce. Add the tofu mixture to the cooked pasta, pour the sauce over the top, and combine. Top with chopped green onions and sunflower seeds or sesame seeds.

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