Pasta is a thing in our house. My daughter loves it, and I like it too as it can oftentimes be prepared fairly quickly – it’s a perfect option for a weekday meal or for when you are not sure what to serve your kids. You know they won’t say no to pasta! 🙂
How to make a pasta dish nutritious
As a nutritionist however, I also want to make sure I serve a meal that will nourish the body and will provide with essential nutrients. Here are some of the things I do to make this happen:
- Pasta: I oftentimes opt for pasta made out of lentils, chickpeas or quinoa. Why? it is higher in protein, and it offers a source of iron (especially lentil and chickpea pasta) – both of these nutrients are important for children, and for adults as well.
- Vitamin C: I mentioned iron in the above point. You can increase absorption of non-heme iron (found in plants) by adding vitamin C. As we are talking about pasta today, my add-ins would be pure tomato sauce, broccoli, peppers, and collard greens.
- Protein: adding a protein source to your pasta is easy. If you don’t eat meat, add some beans or legumes, or make a pesto with almonds… In this recipe, we will use tofu as a substitute for meat and I promise, it will taste good!
- Nutritional yeast: this might sound weird to you if you have never tried it, but I love adding nutritional yeast not just to pasta, but stews and salads. It has a cheesy flavor and is packed with nutrients and protein too. It is a source of complex B vitamins and zinc, all important for the immune system and energy production. My favorite nutritional yeast brand is Engevita and you can find it on Amazon.
Back to tofu
I like to use organic, GMO-free tofu because it is a great source of protein, calcium and magnesium. I don’t eat tofu every day, however it is a part of my diet. It is versatile and nutritious and once you learn how to make it taste good, you will see why it is so easy to incorporate in your meals.
But let’s get back to the recipe for the tofu Bolognese. The recipe is very easy to do. I know you can achieve very good results by marinating and baking the tofu in advance, but let’s face it, with a little child, I don’t always have this time on my hands (unless I do it as part of my meal preparation for the week!).
So, this recipe is the simplified and quick version when I have just 30 minutes of time, and have to put something on the table quick!
I hope you try it and if you do, let me know how you like it.
- For the tofu:
- 1 block (400g) extra-firm organic tofu, drained
- 1-2 tbsp tamari sauce
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 600g tomato sauce (sugar and salt-free)
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- Some olive oil
- Dried oregano and basil
- 1 bay leaf
- Cherry tomatoes, optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 450g lentil spaghetti
- 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast
For the Bolognese sauce:
- Start by making the Bolognese sauce. Heat up the olive oil in a pan and add the chopped onion. Let it soften a little and then add the carrots, pepper and celery. Sauté until soft and fragrant.
- While the veggies are cooking, crumble the tofu using your fingers. You want it to look somewhat like minced meat. You can also blend it quickly, but be careful because over blending will turn the tofu into a paste and the effect will be lost!
- Place the crumbled tofu in a bowl and add the tamari, oregano, basil, cumin, coriander, paprika and garlic powder. Mixt it all well.
- Add the seasoned tofu in the pan to the vegetables and stir. Let it cook for about 3-4 minutes, then add the tomato sauce and the other spices and gently let it come to a bubble. Cook until the sauce thickens and absorbs all the flavors. Taste and adjust the flavor to your liking.
- In the meantime, boil some salted water and cook the pasta according to the packaging instructions.
- Drain the spaghetti and stir into the Bolognese sauce. Serve with some nutritional yeast sprinkled on top.