Spaghetti with a hefty sauce and garlic bread is really a thing of beauty, but it’s got a couple of problems.
First problem: Double carbs. Maybe not a problem if you’re better about portion control than I am, but I’m not satisfied with pasta unless I’ve got a whole plate full of it, and I’m not satisfied with garlic bread unless I’ve got at least three pieces.
Second problem: The “hefty” part of the sauce is usually meat, which, well, obviously. No.
Fortunately, these are both pretty minor problems. My spur-of-the-moment solutions? Swap out the noodles for zucchini, and swap out the meat for tofu. The “zoodles” trick is nothing new to me, but the tofu part was a bit of an experiment. I pressed the bejeezus out of it first to try to minimize sogginess, then crumbled it into a bowl and marinated it in a mixture of meaty-tasting things like liquid smoke, vegan Worcestershire sauce, and some spices. Then I fried it in olive oil for ages until it crisped up.
Totally respectable. Nobody in their right minds would mistake crispy-spiced-tofu-chunks for meat, of course, but it was very savory and added a nice heft to the sauce, not to mention a bit of protein to counter the fat-and-carb-o-rama that was the garlic bread. Which, incidentally, was good. Turns out there are a lot of decent dairy-free margarines out there, and they make garlic bread that tastes just as good as the dairy kind. Due to my wisdom tooth removal, I unfortunately had to content myself with cutting off the crusty edges and just eating the mushy middle, but it was a big success.
The only trouble was that the zoodles were a little liquid-y, as you can see in the picture above. My fault, I’m afraid. Normally I drain them better before serving, but I was hungry, damn it.
It was a hit with the kids, too. The four-year-old especially liked the zoodles-and-sauce, and the two-year-old liked the garlic bread, so between the pair of them, everything got eaten.
The garlic bread was pretty standard: Mix margarine with garlic powder, salt, and oregano, then spread it on some bread and bake it for a while.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- Salt to taste
- 1 15-ounce package of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2-4 more tablespoons olive oil
- In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium-low heat. When the garlic smells great and browns slightly, add the tomatoes.
- Simmer until thickened, adding liquid (water, wine, stock - whatever) if it gets TOO thick. Season to taste.
- Meanwhile, crumble the tofu into a bowl and add the seasonings. Mix it around, taste, and add more of anything that seems necessary. Let it sit for a couple minutes.
- Heat additional olive oil (more if you want a greasier, meatier taste, less if you’re trying to be reasonably healthy) over medium-high heat. Add tofu. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown and crispy.
- Add the tofu to the sauce, and serve over pasta, zucchini noodles, whatever.