Dairy Free, Main Course, Pasta, Recipes, Sauce, Spicy, Vegan, Vegetarian

Buffalo Tofu Bites with Warm Pasta Salad & Vegan Ranch

Happy New Year everyone! I’ve decided to kick off 2020 with a resolution to try new things and experiences. This week we are going completely VEGAN!

First up on the menu is Buffalo Tofu Bites with a Warm Pasta Salad and Vegan Ranch.

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I was honestly disappointed as I was making this vegan ranch – no way could cashews become a cream base for my dressing. Even when I first tasted this “ranch”, I was not impressed. However, after a few tweaks to the recipe and chilling in the refrigerator – it’s DELICIOUS. I wouldn’t call it “ranch” – but I would say it’s a “creamy herbed vegan sauce” LOL! I snacked on it the next day with veggie crackers – very good!

Here is what I learned on day #1 of eating completely vegan…

CONS: Tofu prep is lengthy due to pressing out the liquid || Tofu is more difficult and time consuming to bread compared to chicken || Tofu takes longer to bake

PROS: Similar texture to chicken nuggets || Taste adopts other flavors very well || Crisps nicely when baked after panko breading || Reheats well for lunch leftovers the next day


Ingredients:

Buffalo Tofu Bites: (5 servings)

  • 2lbs extra firm tofu
  • Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce (Yes, it’s vegan. We checked. The ingredient “natural butter type flavor” does not include animal derivatives or synthesized milk proteins)
  • 3-4 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup Almond milk (or other dairy free milk)
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup corn starch
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Vegetable spray

Warm Pasta Salad: (5 servings)

  • 12oz dried pasta
  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced on diagonal
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on diagonal (can use mandolin)
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped chives
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp plant butter
  •  Vegetable oil

Vegan Ranch: (3-4 cups)

  • 8oz unsalted cashews
  • Hot water for soaking
  • 2 cups water for sauce
  • 3.5 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp onion powder
  • 1.5 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 3 tsp dried dill weed
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley

Directions:

Drain tofu and press out liquid either with a specialized tofu press or by wrapping in a lint-free towel and placing a heavy bottomed dish over top. Let sit 20-30 minutes.

Soak cashews in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Prepare vegetables for pasta salad and set aside.

Combine all ingredients for vegan ranch in blender *except chives, dill, and parsley. Puree until smooth – add water as needed for consistency. Stir in herbs. Chill until ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 425°. Slice each slab of tofu in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 6 strips to create 12 tofu sticks. Position in a single layer, cover with paper towels or lint-free towel, and place heavy bottomed dish on top again for a second press 5-10 minutes. Prepare breading station – 1 bowl with dairy free milk, 1 bowl with cornstarch with added onion and garlic powder if desired, 1 bowl with panko breadcrumbs. Bread tofu by coating each stick thoroughly in cornstarch mix, followed by almond milk, then press into panko breadcrumbs. Place on a lightly greased baking pan. Bake in middle of oven at 425° for 25 minutes, flip, then bake 10-15 more minutes until golden brown. If at this point you need a little more color on them, you can broil for 1-2 minutes, but monitor closely. Toss in buffalo sauce immediately prior to serving. Do not sauce ahead of time since this will make the breading soggy if not eaten soon after.

While the tofu is baking, prepare the pasta salad. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large pan then sauté vegetables about 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften. Add plant butter, onion powder, and garlic powder and stir to combine. Cover over low heat for about 3-4 minutes. Add cooked pasta and stir to combine. Garnish with chives.

Serve with avocado on the side (or add mashed avocado to ranch for a twist).

Enjoy! 😀

Don’t forget to tag me if you give it a try! #whatsinbreesbelly

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