Last Updated on June 3, 2023
There are many vegan and plant-based “meat” options available. Typically, they are made with wheat gluten, pea protein, and soy protein just to name a few. This one is different! It’s Italian-inspired “sausage” flavored tofu crumbles. You may say you are not really a fan of tofu but don’t worry, with this particular recipe you wouldn’t even taste tofu! The texture is also completely different than what you are used to. It’s cooked with the aromatic blend of dried herbs and spices that reminds you of “sausage” flavor. This is a perfect ingredient for making Italian dishes.
The Tofu Trick
The key to get the texture that’s similar to “sausage” crumbles is using FROZEN TOFU. It will require extra steps before getting into cooking with frozen tofu, which is not difficult, but it’s worth it! All you need to do is buy extra firm tofu from you’re grocery store, pop it in a freezer, and wait for 2 days or until it’s frozen. Then defrost in the sink for 6-8 hours and it’s now ready to use!
You will notice the consistency of tofu is totally different when you drain and squeeze out excess water. Also, you will be surprised by how much water comes out!! In the end, the tofu becomes like a dry sponge which gives the chewy meat-like texture when you cook it.
With this recipe, 1 block of tofu becomes about 1 1/2 cups of cooked “sausage” crumbles. It should be a perfect amount for using it with a 24 oz jar of passata to make pasta sauce enough for about four people. If you need more than that, just double (or triple!) the amount accordingly. It’s perfect for pasta sauce, pizza toppings, lasagna, and ravioli filling.
Italian "Sausage" Crumbles (Tofu)
- 1 pack (14 oz, drained weight) extra firm tofu
Dry Herb & Spice Mix
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp paprika powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2-3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Freeze tofu (keep in the package from a grocery store) for at least 48 hours.
- Defrost for 6-8 hours at room temperature. You can also defrost in the fridge which is safer and contamination free but it will take up to 48 hours.
- Drain water and squeeze the tofu to remove excess water (a lot of it!) Transfer to a large prep bowl. Use hands to crumble tofu into small bits. Set aside.
- Make dry herb & spice mix. Use mortar & pestle to crush fennel seeds. Add dried oregano and dried thyme then grind altogether* (see the notes below.) Transfer the herb mix to a small bowl, then add paprika powder, garlic powder, and onion powder. Use a teaspoon to mix until well blended.
- Add the dry herb & spice mix to the crumbled tofu. Season with salt and black pepper. Use a hand to mix well.
- Heat up a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Pour extra virgin olive oil then add the tofu mixture. Stir often as tofu crumbles tend to stick together. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Look for the dry and crispy texture.
- Use immediately or transfer to a container and store in the fridge. Consume within 2-3 days.
- If you don’t have mortar & pestle, just leave fennel seeds as whole and use your palms to partially “grind” dried oregano and dried thyme.