Cajun Pasta with Coconut-crusted Tofu

Serves 4

12 ounces pasta, cooked al dente, drained and reserving 1 cup of cooking water

Spice Mix:

1 ½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon white pepper

¼ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 celery ribs, chopped

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup vegetable broth

2 teaspoons spice mix (above)

1 cup reserved pasta water


¾ cups arrowroot starch or cornstarch, divided

½ cup vegetable broth

2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes, blended for 10 seconds in a blender

2 teaspoons spice mix (above)

1 (14-ounces) package firm or extra firm tofu, pressed, cut into ½-inch slices

4 tablespoons neutral oil

1. Spice Mix: Combine the salt, paprika, garlic, onion, pepper and cayenne in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Sauce: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery. Cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down, about 10 more minutes. Add the vegetable broth and spice mix. Cook until the broth evaporates, about 4 more minutes. Add the pasta and pasta water. Stir and cook until the pasta is heated through and well coated with the sauce.

3. Tofu: Combine ½ cup of the starch and broth in a shallow dish. Combine the coconut flakes, ¼ cup of the starch and spice mix in a separate shallow dish. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Dredge the tofu in the wet mixture and then in the coconut mixture. Fry the tofu until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towels.

4. Assembly: Serve the pasta with the tofu. Sprinkle the dish with more spice mix, as desired.


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