If you’re a pasta lover in search for new ideas, then you might want to try this zucchini tofu balls pasta recipe. The zucchini tofu balls might take some time to prepare, but it’s not a complicated process at all. And the white sauce is even easier to make. Plus, they’re a very good match ?.
Many prefer calling these vegetable balls or patties “vegan meatballs“, but, to be honest, I find it quite limitative. Probably because before giving up meat, I only knew one meatballs recipe. But now, with so many veggies in handy, I feel I’m playing on a way bigger playground and there are so many possibilities ?.
This recipe is vegan and it can be very easily turned into a gluten free recipe.
Zucchini tofu balls pasta with white sauce ingredients
I used linguine pasta for this recipe, but feel free to use whatever vegan or gluten free pasta you have in your pantry. Now let’s see what other ingredients we need!
Zucchini tofu balls ingredients
- zucchini – grated and well drained; and, if not organic, I prefer peeling it;
- tofu – use firm tofu, it gives a chewy texture; just make sure to remove excess water;
- breadcrumbs (or panko) – they’re needed to absorb the zucchini and tofu water and to bind the mixture; you can replace them with ground oats; you might need to adjust the quantity though);
- nutritional yeast flakes – it also absorbs the water and adds a cheesy taste too;
- flaxseed egg – to bound the mixture;
- dried herbs – I used thyme, basil, and oregano; any other combination or addition works fine;
White sauce ingredients
- vegan butter – for a creamy texture;
- vegan cream – I used soy cream, but any unsweetened plant based cream works;
- nutritional yeast – to give the sauce a cheesy flavor and to thicken it;
- garlic powder – I preferred using powder instead of fresh garlic to get a sauce with a nice smooth texture; feel free to use as much fresh garlic as you want;
- ground white pepper – replace it with black pepper if white pepper is not in handy.
How to make zucchini tofu balls pasta with white sauce
To be more efficient, I prefer starting with the zucchini tofu balls preparation and cook pasta and sauce while the balls are baking.
First you need to press the firm tofu to squeeze out as much moisture as possible. If you don’t have a tofu press, wrap it in layered paper towels or a dish towel, place it on a plate and put a wooden chopping board on top. Weight it down with something heavy to make sure you remove all excess water. Then place the tofu block in a large bowl and break it with a fork or just use your hands.
Prepare the flaxseed egg by mixing in a small bowl 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp of water and set aside.
Use a box grater to grate the zucchini, then squeeze it well with your hands to remove the water. Add the zucchini into the bowl where you put tofu together with the rest of the vegan balls ingredients. Combine well the ingredients until you get a thick paste. Use a food processor if you want. When you press the mixture between your fingers, it should hold together. If not, add more breadcrumbs.
Then use a spoon to make small balls of 2, maximum 3 cm in diameter. Put them in a baking trey lined with parchment paper and bake for about 30 minutes at 180° C, until they turn golden.
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. When they’re almost al-dente, just drain the water. No need to rinse with cold water if you’re in perfect synchronization and have to add pasta directly into the pan with the cooked sauce ?. If you have to wait until everything else is cooked, then rinse the pasta to interrupt the cooking process and set aside. Reserve some water before you draining the pasta in case you need it for the sauce.
Use a large skillet to prepare the sauce. Melt the vegan butter over medium heat, then add the rest of the sauce ingredients and let it simmer for 2 minutes. In case you want more sauce for the pasta and decide to use more vegan cream, then you should increase the nutritional yeast quantity or add a few tablespoons of pasta water to thicken the sauce.
When the sauce is thicken enough, stir in the pasta and the zucchini tofu balls. Cook together for 1 minute, then transfer into serving plates and enjoy!
Tips for making perfect zucchini tofu balls pasta
Squeeze out as much water as possible of both zucchini and tofu. The more water they keep, the more breadcrumbs you’ll have to add and your vegan balls will taste more like breadcrumbs.
Make small vegan balls (2 cm) so that they cook fast and evenly.
The vegan balls should be equally sized so that they cook at the same time.
How to store the pasta
You can keep the sauce and vegan balls for a few days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. But I prefer cooking fresh pasta. Also, you can double the mixture of zucchini tofu balls and freeze it. You could also freeze the baked began balls.
If you’re into pasta, you might want to take a look on my other pasta recipes:
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did! And if you decide to give it a try, be sure to let me know. Rate it or leave a comment below. Or take a picture and tag it #choosetasty on Instagram ?.
Zucchini Tofu Balls Pasta with Garlicky White Sauce
- 400 g linguine pasta
Zucchini tofu balls
- 1 medium grated zucchini about 400 g
- 150 g tofu (knead with a fork)
- 1 flaxseed egg mix 1 tbsp ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp water
- 80 g breadcrumbs or more
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp salt or less if using salted tofu
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp garlic powder optional
- 2 tbsp vegan butter
- 500 ml vegan unsweetened cream
- 5 tbsp nutritional yeast (flakes)
- 1 tbsp salt or to taste
- 1 tsp white ground pepper or to taste
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 2-3 tbsp pasta water if needed
- Press the tofu block to remove the excess water; then place it into a bowl and break it with a fork or by hands;
- In a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp of water and set aside;
- Grate the zucchini and then squeeze it to remove the water; put the squeezed zucchini into the same bowl with the tofu crumbs;
- Preheat the oven at 180° C;
- Add the flaxseed egg and the rest of the ingredients and mix them well; adjust the breadcrumbs quantity if needed;
- Use a spoon to make small balls (2 cm) and place them into a baking trey lined with parchment paper;
- Place the zucchini tofu balls into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until they turn golden;
- While the vegan balls are baking, cook the pasta according to the package instructions; when they're almost done (al-dente), drain and rinse with cold water if the case (please read the information above the recipe on how to better organize the preparation); don't forget to save some pasta water for the sauce;
- To cook the sauce, melt the vegan butter over medium heat in a large skillet;
- Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and let it simmer over low heat for 2 minutes;
- Stir in the cooked pasta, then add the vegan balls and cook together over medium heat for maximum 1 minute; add 2-3 tbsp of pasta water to thicken the sauce if necessary;
- Transfer into serving plates and enjoy!
- Squeeze as much water as possible out of the tofu block and grated zucchini.
- Make small (2 cm) and equally sized vegan balls so that they cook fast and at the same time.
- Start by making the zucchini balls; cook pasta and sauce while the balls are baking.