Heirloom tomatoes get their chance to shine in this pasta salad that is dressed with a creamy cheesy dressing (made healthy with a secret ingredient twist).
heirloom tomato pasta salad with ricotta salata cream sauce

One thing I will not abide by in this apartment is sauce from a jar.

The.Boy practically lived off the stuff before he knew me and so whenever he can tell I’m a bit short on time/frazzled/borderline psychotic he suggests that maybe he should just run to the grocery store and grab a jar of Prego or Ragu or whatever synthetic tomato product happens to be on sale that week.

And then I attempt to kill him with my eyes. Death stares like you wouldn’t believe.

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You see, I like the tomato in my marinara sauce to come from a vine and not “natural flavor” (which we all know is code for “artificial flavor”) and sugar. And I’d prefer that any alfredo sauce I ingest not be shelf stable. Because that just seems wrong.

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So for this month’s Recipe Redux (a blogging event centered around healthy eating and living) theme, which is “Raising the Bar on Food in a Jar”, I thought I would remake jarred pasta sauce.  Of the alfredo variety.

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And while I would like to say I pulled it off without even a single secret (sorta weirdo) ingredient…that’s just not the case.

There is something quite controversial lurking inside this thick and cheesy sauce that tastes like pure decadence…

…but it’s not cream. I pinky swear it.

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It’s tofu.

Now. Before you get all up in arms and go wildly insane on me, I will have you know that I served this pasta to my entire family – mother, sister, sister’s boyfriend, brother, and the.boy – without telling them what was in it and not a single one of them guessed that there was anything amiss. In fact, they still don’t know so I’m sure I’ll get a few outraged emails/text messages/voicemails in the next hour or so claiming that I’ve ruined their lives/intestines but such is life.

We both know they ate it and they liked it. So there.

In addition to the “cream”, this pasta salad is also stuffed with big fresh heirloom tomato flavor (like…3 pounds of it), basil and olives. And in my opinion, you just can’t go wrong with all that. Like, ever.

So while I can promise with a cherry on top that you will never ever find a jar of fake tomatoes in my fridge, I will be keeping a jar of this cheesy deliciousness on hand. To pour over everything in my life. But mostly pasta.

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One year ago...Heirloom Tomato Salad with Capers and Mozzarella, Carrot Cake Ice Cream

Three years ago...Zucchini, Tomato and Corn Recipe Roundup

Four years ago...Tunisian Chicken with Raisins and Lemon

Heirloom Tomato Pasta Salad with Ricotta Salata Cream Sauce {#RecipeRedux}
 
Heirloom tomatoes get their chance to shine in this pasta salad that is dressed with a creamy cheesy dressing (made healthy with a secret ingredient twist).
Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb pasta (I used radiatore)
  • 3 lb mixed heirloom tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 oz crumbled ricotta salata
  • 8 oz reduced fat silken tofu
  • ½ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1 can black olives, drained
Instructions
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain pasta and toss with the tomatoes in a large bowl.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic, ricotta salata, and tofu. Pulse until pureed.
  3. Toss pasta and tomatoes with the ricotta salata sauce, basil, and black olives.
  4. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅛th of recipe

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79 Responses to Heirloom Tomato Pasta Salad with Ricotta Salata Cream Sauce {#RecipeRedux}

  1. Yum! I thought the secret ingredient was going to be pureed cauliflower!

  2. Megan says:

    It looks really good, but the tofu definitely scares me. I’ve had cheesecakes and other stuff made with it and I could tell. But it sounds like no one knew, so you did a good job hiding it! Those tomatoes look beautiful!

  3. YUM! A big bowl of pasta with creamy sauce and fresh heirloom tomatoes! Delicious.

  4. I love this healthier take on an alfredo !

  5. This looks like such a fabulous pasta friend! I do occasionally buy jarred tomato sauce but always feel embarrassed buying it…never.buy.jarred.tomato.sauce.in.front.of.joanne. Noted!

  6. Simply Life says:

    wow! I am so impressed you managed to sneak tofu into a pasta dish! it looks great!

  7. Tracey says:

    I don’t know if I’ve ever had tofu, if you can believe that. But I definitely want to try this sauce – it looks so creamy and wonderful! Wonder if I could sneak tofu by the husband… :)

  8. tofu in pasta is totally yummy! so glad people are getting on board ;)

  9. Kristi says:

    So this is pretty dumb of me, but as I try to get rid of the processed foods in my house and go to more natural ingredients I didn’t even think of the jarred sauce that I have in my pantry that I picked up while on sale for like $1.00. That $1.00 would be better spent on by fresh tomatoes.

  10. bellini says:

    Silken tofu makes delicious chocolate pudding as well and no one has to know. If my mom had have known about siken tofu when I was a child I am sure it would have been prolific in her kitchen.

  11. Amy says:

    Hm. Interesting. Perhaps you could develop a new line of jarred sauce!

  12. Yay! I actually like blended tofu in sauces…. although even better is my chocolate tofu mousse pie. Easy peasy.. dude, I should totally go make it again. :)

  13. Margarita says:

    This pasta, yes please. Tomato sauce from a jar, no thank you. Tofu cream… new to me but I trust you! :)

  14. hear hear, homemade sauces for the win!!

    TOFU?! Really? Huh! This pasta looks fabulous so I will believe you on the tofu! :P

  15. oh my adding tofu to create this sauce is such a smart idea..I am guilty of using those jarred sauce though :(

  16. Erica says:

    That looks delicious, Joanne! I love ricotta salata, but I am not a huge fan of TOFU! But I would love try this dish!

  17. Monica says:

    Very cool. Like the tofu idea. I bet it works wonders. We are big tofu fans in my house too.

  18. I love the add of tofu in this creamy sauce! The pasta looks very tasty.

  19. Sam says:

    I make tofu-based alfredo sauce ALL THE TIME and never tell anyone. It’s creamy, delicious, simpler to make, and better for you.

  20. oh goodness–tofu alfredo? how perfect, how sneaky. when i made tofu pudding once my husband flipped… but he loooved it! will have to try this out, joanne!

  21. elly says:

    I’ve always been curious about tofu-based sauces but have been hesitant to try them. However, anything with heirloom tomatoes has got to be good.

  22. SallyBR says:

    I might pull this tofu trick on Phil.

    If hell breaks loose, I will be blaming you. So that you know… Be prepared ;-)

  23. Abby says:

    ohh so sneaky! I love it. Def have to give this a try..maybe even throw in a little vodka?

  24. Dan from Platter Talk says:

    What a great looking summer salad! Loving the tofu incorporation, great post!!

  25. Pam says:

    Aren’t you sneaky! Even though I am a tad scared of tofu, I think this pasta salad looks incredible!

  26. Cindie says:

    I eat a lot of regular tofu, but somehow always forget about silken tofu. This recipe looks great, and the sauce is easy enough to make for any other pasta dish too.

  27. I am 100% with you on fresh or really high quality jarred pasta sauce. The fake stuff isn’t worth it! Creative recipe Joanne!

  28. gloria says:

    This look delicious!! I love it!

  29. Reading this post made me laugh out loud because I fully admit in my blog post for tomorrow that I am guilty of buying the canned pasta. :) Ack, I know! (Though I make up for it with the post, promise :)). I am totally intrigued by this tofu-based sauce. It looks so tasty!

  30. Beth says:

    Funny! If it’s that good, though, I’m sure they’ll forgive the transgression.

  31. i can imagine how creamy this is because of the tofu! I’ve never made pasta with tofu but will totally put this on my to-do list soon. Great job!

  32. Katerina says:

    My son is a big fan of tofu and I am a big fan of such salads! It looks absolutely delicious!

  33. Suzie says:

    I’ve never made anything with tofu, basically because I didn’t know what to do with it. I prefer homemade sauces too but, will occasionally go for the jar. I’d really like to make this cheesy sauce though. I looks so good. I have a get-together coming up, I wonder if I could trick all of them :)

  34. I love the idea of silken tofu here! Soy is so insanely versatile. Thanks for this recipe—there should be no excuses for jarred sauces when you have so many easy and excellent recipes online!

  35. I used to use tofu a lot like this. Must try with pasta salad before the summer’s over!

  36. Eileen says:

    I love how simple this is–blender sauce sounds like the best idea on a hot hot day. :) And I don’t think I’ve ever eaten jarred alfredo! I mean, we definitely had jarred tomato-based sauces around while I was growing up, but I’m beginning to think my mom shared that horror of shelf-stability.

  37. Yay for tofu! I adore tofu and love that you used it in this pasta dish! With those olives and tomatoes this dish must have been rockin!
    yum yum yum

  38. I LOVe it- tofu is brilliant! It’s the secret ingredient of the gods, I think. And I’m with you on the ick of shelf-stable alfredo. It creeps me out. And I was raised on the stuff!

  39. I have used tofu in muffin recipes. Love the idea of a cream sauce though!

  40. mmm, this sauce looks so good! I love that it’s creamy but not really rich. I’m adding it to my collection of pasta recipes now that Nate is marathon training again ;)

  41. This pasta looks awesome! I loved that you tricked people into eating the tofu- I have to do that with my boyfriend all the time!

  42. sandra says:

    I usually just open a jar. Kudos to you for sticking to you guns on this front. I wish I had the time!!

  43. sandra says:

    I love your use of tofu in the sauce. Never would have thought of it!

  44. Natalie says:

    Looks like a great dish, interesting use of tofu in this meal.

  45. CCU says:

    What a great sauce and pasta salad my friend, delicious :D

    Cheers
    CCU

  46. grace says:

    heirloom tomatoes are faaaantastic. i think you’ve created an attractive and delicious pasta dish, joanne, and made it better than i ever would’ve thought possible! (pasta ain’t my thang.) :)

  47. This has got to be the most delicious pasta salad I’ve seen lately! It looks so scrumptious, colorful and summery! Great recipe, Joanne.

  48. Chewthefat says:

    I grew up on jarred pasta sauce. I seriously thought that cooking pasta sauce meant making Spatini, which was a 80s powdered pasta spice you could add to plain sauce. It really did shock me to see how many jarred varieties contain HFCS–basically like eating sugar on top of carbs for dinner.

    As a vegetarian, I gotta say–I tried to convince myself (even wrote blog posts) about how I loved tofu, but I really can’t stand soy. Can’t convince me that it is cream or cheese, no way. ;)

  49. I will do anything for heriloom tomatoes! This sauce looks delicious, i usually use cashews for a creamy non-dairy base but really need to try tofu!

  50. Christine says:

    Jarred sauces rank right down there with “cream of’s” in crockpot cooking imho. Can’t believe you snuck this by them! May just have to try it because it looks so delicious!

  51. Confession: when I first moved out, I loved pasta alfredo from a packet – just add water. It was delicious back then, but I now shudder at the thought! Will definitely try your amazing alfredo with tofu, it really does look incredible.

  52. debbie says:

    Another dish using tofu!!!! Yay….so happy to see that. I don’t think I will need anymore cookbooks – I will just pull up your blog. I love this recipe…never thought you could use tofu this way!

  53. I love dishes that sound like a heart attack in a bottle but are actually healthy for you.

  54. Mind = blown. Tofu cream sauce: coming soon to a kitchen near me. And shelf-stable Alfredo sauce freaks me out too!

  55. Monet says:

    How cool Joanne! I’ve used tofu in a few dessert recipes, which always shocks people. I’m sure it makes this pasta creamy and delicious. Thank you for sharing!

  56. Looks good! Next thing is to learn how to make those cute ‘radiatore’ pasta pieces by hand!

  57. I love the Tofu and great idea adding into this pasta salad! Looks delicious!!

  58. Hotly Spiced says:

    I don’t make my own pasta sauce because I’m a bit time poor but we do have access to beautiful pasta sauces here that are 100% natural which continues to cause me to justify to myself why I don’t drive for two hours to the markets, pick up a tonne of tomatoes and spend my weekend canning. I love the look of this pasta – I make a similar one with olives, basil and heirloom tomatoes but there’s no secret ingredient. I’ll have to try it! xx

  59. Kate says:

    It’s the Italian in you with the sauce. But the tofu? You must have some secret roots we don’t know about.

  60. I love the idea of using tofu! What a great concept :)

  61. Pasta salads are amazing. Easy to make, a lot of variety of ingredients and delicious for all the familly!
    I have many pasta recipes and I will try this one too.
    Thank you Joanne

  62. Lynn says:

    I would have never thought of putting tofu in a salad mix like that. It looks so good.

    Hangs head here > I use jarred marinara sauce in a pinch. :)

  63. Love the use of tofu in the alfredo – I must try this! My kids love pasta salad in their lunches so this might be my next recipe. :)

  64. Shannon says:

    what a fabulous redux!! love that it’s been served to the whole fam :) hehehe

  65. Jenna says:

    Oh, this looks absolutely delicious. Pinning!

  66. I’m with you on jarred sauce thing (it’s the Italian in me :) Love experimenting more with tofu in this way and ricotta salata is one of my very favorite cheeses. Can’t to try this on the picky husband!

  67. Colynn says:

    Yummmmmmmmmm…I definitely agree with you on jarred pasta sauce. Fresh veggies are the way to go. I absolutely love heirloom tomatoes. My grandparents have this awesome garden that’s full of them this year. (WINNING!)

    Anyways, I also love the fact that you used tofu as the base. I’ve never used it in an alfredo sauce before, but I have experimented with it in vegan ranch dressings and tzatziki sauces. Delicious. You really can’t tell the difference if you make it right.

    PS: This is probably a little moot, but I love the new look of your site. :) ???

  68. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    Oh yes! This looks incredible :) I swear I can already taste it!

  69. Ashley says:

    This is great. I have a baked pasta recipe that uses tofu in the sauce, and it’s wonderful (and Italian husband approved!). People are too quick to judge tofu because they see the blasphemous things some people do with it haha!

  70. […] @ Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker is Pasta and Cheese. I’ve been wanting to make this recipe from Joanne Eats Well with Others since it appeared. And it is as good as she describes: All her […]

  71. Serena says:

    Joanne, I’ve been wanting to make this all summer. And finally did! It’s as good as you describe! So creamy it coats every strand of pasta! Here’s my blog post on it: http://teaspooncomm.com/teaspoonofspice/2013/09/pasta-cape-alfredo-sauce-improv-challenge/

  72. […] Heirloom Tomato Pasta Salad with Ricotta Salata Cream Sauce recipe by Joanne @ Joanne Eats Well With Others […]

  73. Joanne,
    I’ve never made a cream sauce with tofu, but I know it’s been done. Since none of your family was any of the wiser, it makes me think it’s time to give it a try.

  74. Joanne,
    I’ve heard about people doing sneaky things like that, but I’ve never heard of them getting away with it. You’ve inspired me.

  75. […] Heirloom tomato pasta salad from Eats Well with Others […]

  76. […] Heirloom Tomato Pasta Salad with Ricotta Salata Cream Sauce […]

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