Jenn's Tofu Bolognese and Spaghetti

Last week, I had the pleasure of teaching a group of 6-9 year old children how to make my Tofu Bolognese and Spaghetti. We had the entire group involved, with each child doing different tasks as the lesson progressed. We covered tasting, knife skills, flavor building, and proper seasoning. The children were a delight and I really can’t thank the parents enough for allowing me this opportunity to work with their children.

Here’s what I found: Dahling, children will almost always eat what they help prepare. All the children loved the Tofu Bolognese and Spaghetti (many asked for seconds) but most importantly they were developing an important life skill that will serve them for a very long time. Here I am teaching my young friend the importance of tucking little fingers (and big fingers too) when cutting to avoid accidents.  

Learning Knife Skills

We talked about the importance of properly salting the pasta water before adding the spaghetti. Did you know the water should taste like the ocean before adding the pasta? No?! Now, you do. No matter how flavorful the sauce, if the pasta itself isn’t properly seasoned, the dish will fall flat. You really only have that one opportunity to infuse the pasta with flavor when boiling it. The children had a grand time tasting the water, and were not afraid to let me know, “It doesn’t taste like the ocean yet, Miss Jenn!”

Mixing WellMy young friend helped mix the spices and seasonings into the tofu before adding to the pan. He was determined to see the task through and did not consider his task complete until every little crumb of tofu was properly coated.

Next we covered flavor building. We talked about how mirepoix forms the base of many French dishes for good reason. The mix of  onion, carrots and celery creates a lovely flavor base for almost any dish across many different cuisines. Of course, one child then decided to speak French, expecting me to speak back. Ha! My French is limited to a few cooking terms and perhaps “Ciao!” Whoops, Wikipedia informed me Ciao was Italian so I’ll stick to French cooking terms, thank you. I can’t engage you like that, boy genius. Sorry!

Learning How to Properly Season a DishThis young chef learned the importance of adding a bit of salt and pepper each time something new is added to the pot. Doing so ensures the dish is properly seasoned throughout. If we wait until the dish is finished to taste, and try to add salt at that point, we run the risk of over-salting, as tasting a lot of salt in rapid succession can quickly dull our taste buds and we overcompensate by adding too much salt.

Jenn's Tofu Bolognese and Spaghetti

We finished off the dish with fresh herbs snipped right off the plant and garnished with vegan parmesan cheese I made on the spot from raw cashew, nutritional yeast and salt. To find out more about what tofu is and some of the ways to maximize its flavor, check out my Jamaican Jerk Tofu Steak.

For 5 steps to successfully work with children in the kitchen, listen to my podcast, Cooking with Kids.

Book Chef Jenn for your next event!

Meet Jenn

Print Recipe
Jenn's Vegan Bolognese & Spaghetti
A delicious plant-powered dish that kids and adults will love.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings
Ingredients
  • 1/2 12 oz block tofu
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp green bell pepper diced
  • 2 tbsp carrot diced
  • 1/4 cup onion diced
  • 1 garlic clove finely minced
  • 1/4 cup red wine optional can substitute with more tomato sauce
  • 14 oz can Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup Vegan Parmesan Cheese plus more for garnish (recipe below)
  • 6 oz spaghetti boiled (do not rinse)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings
Ingredients
  • 1/2 12 oz block tofu
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp green bell pepper diced
  • 2 tbsp carrot diced
  • 1/4 cup onion diced
  • 1 garlic clove finely minced
  • 1/4 cup red wine optional can substitute with more tomato sauce
  • 14 oz can Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup Vegan Parmesan Cheese plus more for garnish (recipe below)
  • 6 oz spaghetti boiled (do not rinse)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
Press tofu:
  1. Press tofu in tofu press or by wrapping tofu in clean paper towels. Put in a plate. Top with another plate and add a heavy skillet or canned goods. Press until most of the liquid is squeezed out. This may take 15-20 minutes.
Season tofu:
  1. Crumble tofu with your fingers into small chunks, the size of ground meat. Add tamari/soy sauce, Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, and fresh black pepper. Stir to combine. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Create sauce base:
  1. Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil and allow to heat for 30 seconds. Add mirepoix (bell pepper, carrot and onion). Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Saute until onion is translucent (3-5 mins). Add minced garlic. Sautee for 30 seconds.
  2. Add tofu to skillet. Spread out in a single layer in pan. Do not stir. Allow to sear for at least 2 minutes to brown. Stir to brown other side.
  3. Add wine to pan to deglaze, making sure to scrape up the bits of tofu and seasoning (suc) that may be stuck to the pan. Quickly reduce wine for 1 minute
  4. Add fire-roasted tomatoes. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, oregano and bay leaf. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in vegan parmesan cheese, boiled spaghetti and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes. Top with fresh basil and serve.
Share this Recipe

Print Recipe
Vegan Parmesan Cheese
A delicious dairy free take on traditional parmesan cheese.
Servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashew
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp sea salt
Servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashew
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend/process to desired consistency. Store in a sealed container and use as a replacement for Parmesan cheese.
Share this Recipe