Making Tofu Meatballs using the classic Italian method made easy. What I love about these tofu meatballs is that they are braised in tomato sauce, it’s a wonderful way to flavor both the red sauce and the Tofu Meatballs.
Not in the mood for pasta? You can always make the ultimate tofu meatballs sandwich. We recommend using focaccia bread. It really sops up the tomato sauce in a sumptuous way.
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How to Make Tofu Meatballs with Tomato Sauce
Italian Tofu Meatballs
Managing the mix’s moisture is key when making Italian-style tofu meatballs. It all starts when you are cooking the onions, garlic, and tofu, the key is to make sure you allow the mixture to cook long enough to reduce excess liquid.
The next key is ensuring the cooked tofu mixture is cold before moving to the next step.
Now that we have managed the moisture in the first step and have a cold mixture it’s time to mix it with what is in essence a panade. A panade is a classic cooking technique that is a mixture of bread and milk, it is used as a binder in meatballs and meatloaf.
We have taken a different approach and replaced milk with silken tofu, breadcrumbs, and potato starch to form a creamy binder, creating a light moist Italian tofu meatball.
Coating the Italian tofu meatball with an extra layer of panko bread crumbs adds a wonderful texture and helps the meatball hold its shape during cooking as well as adding yet more flavor once it becomes golden brown.
Easy Tomato Sauce
We added a 1/2 cup of water as an option when cooking the tomato sauce. As the sauce simmers, you may need to adjust the liquid levels. You do not want the sauce to reduce too much before it goes into the oven.
Cooking the tomato sauce on the stovetop is key, we want the sauce to cook slowly and develop flavor, which can take 20 -30 minutes.
Cooking the tomato sauce and the tofu meatballs together in the oven heats the meatballs, reduces the sauce, and infuses the dish with a deep rich character.
Tofu Meatballs, Italian Style with Tomato Sauce
Servings: 4 People
Making Tofu Meatballs using the classic Italian method made easy. What I love about these tofu meatballs is that they are braised in tomato sauce, it's a wonderful way to flavor both the red sauce and the Tofu Meatballs.Print Recipe
- 2 Tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- ¼ cup yellow onions small diced
- 4 garlic cloves grated
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper fresh cracked
- ¼ tsp red chili flakes
- 7 oz firm tofu
- 1 tsp molasses
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 3 Tbsp parsley fresh chopped
- 6 oz silken tofu
- 1½ cup panko bread crumbs ½ for filling / 1 cup for coating
- 2 Tbsp potato starch
- 3-4 Tbsp olive oil for sautéing the tofu meatballs
Easy Tomato Sauce
- 8 ounces dried spaghetti
- 1 ounce Basil Fresh chopped
How to make Italian style tofu meatballs
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat a sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, small diced onions, grated garlic, kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and red chili flakes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Using your hands, break the firm tofu into small chunks and add it to the pan with the onions and garlic. Using a fork continue to break the firm tofu into smaller pieces. Cook for about 3 minutes, allowing the tofu liquid to evaporate.
- Add the molasses and the tomato paste, continue to stir and cook for another 3 minutes. Finish by adding the fresh chopped parsley. Remove the tofu mixture from the pan, place it on a plate, and cool in the refrigerator (approx. 10-15 minutes).
- In a large mixing bowl combine the silken tofu, ½ cup panko bread crumbs, and the potato starch. Mix vigorously with a spoon, the mixture should become a thick, tacky paste. This is our panade.
- Combine the cooked and cooled tofu mixture with the panade. Stir to combine. The tofu meatballs should have a firm feel and should be moist but not wet. The real test is to form a ball (about 2 ounces in weight), the ball should keep its shape when forming. If it feels a little too soft add 2 Tbsp of panko to the mixture and allow to rest for 3 minutes to hydrate, then reform.
- Place the remaining 1 cup of panko bread crumbs on a plate. Form the tofu meatballs about the size of a ping pong ball or 2 – 2 ½ ounces. Place the formed meatball on the plate with the panko.
- Heat a heavy sauté pan large enough to cook all of the tofu meatballs at one time. Add olive oil and heat. Gently coat and roll the tofu meatballs with the panko bread crumbs. Place the tofu meatballs in the saute pan. You need to move fairly fast at this stage. Cook the meatballs until deep brown for about 5 minutes, turn the meatballs to cook on all sides. Once cooked, remove and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the meatballs in the oven for 10 minutes.
How to make easy tomato sauce
- Heat the pan that you cooked the tofu meatballs in, using the oil that is leftover. (If you find that you have too many burnt pieces of bread crumbs or bits of tofu it's ok to just start with a clean sauté pan, you'll need to add 2 Tbsp olive oil).
- Add the onion, garlic, kosher salt, oregano, and sugar to the pan, sauté over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, bring to a low simmer cooking for 20 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick add water to adjust the thickness.
- Place the tofu meatballs in the tomato sauce. Add whole leaves of basil into the middle of the pan, reserving a few to chifonade as garnish.
- Place in the oven for 15 minutes.
How to Finish Tofu Meatballs with Tomato Sauce
- Cook the spaghetti acording to package instructions while the meatballs are in the oven.
- Place the cooked pasta on a plate or plater.
- Spoon the sauce and tofu meatballs over the pasta.
- Finish with fresh chopped basil
Nutritional values are an estimate.
Calories: 685kcal | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Sodium: 766mg | Potassium: 1033mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 1179IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 246mg | Iron: 7mg