Components:

  • Pasta – use your favorite macaroni that you would like to cheese.
  • Oven-fried tofu (recipe below)
  • Cheese sauce (recipe below)
  • TVP bacon bits (recipe below)
  • Barbecue sauce – your favorite brand will work fine.
  • Green onion (optional)
  • Diced red or sweet yellow onion

Oven-Fried Tofu:

1 package frozen and defrosted firm or extra firm tofu

For the batter:

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • ½ cup
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Southern style hot sauce to taste (I use Frank’s)

For the breading:

  • 1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cooking spray (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.

Drain the tofu, and lightly squeeze out as much liquid as you can without crumbling or breaking apart the block. Place the tofu between two towels and weigh down with a heavy pot or pan. Let sit for while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a shallow dish (Pie pans work great for both the batter and the breading.), combine the batter ingredients. Stir together until they form a thin batter. Don’t be afraid to add more chickpea flour or water to adjust. You really want the texture to resemble a thin pancake batter, or even more accurately, a beaten egg. Add as much hot sauce as you want. I like quite a bit, as in two or more tablespoons. Pro tip: your batter will taste terrible. Raw chickpea flour tastes terrible. Do not judge your batter’s flavor at this stage. You can test to see if it’s too salty, or too spicy, but it will be bitter and unpleasant.

In another shallow dish, combine all of the breading ingredients (except the cooking spray). You can omit the oil if you want, but it will help the breading brown. Without the oil or the cooking spray, you will still get a crisp breading, but it will be a bit blonde. Mix the ingredients with your hands. Taste it. It should taste like a barbecue potato chip. Adjust the salt and spices to your taste.

You can really choose to cut your tofu into any shape. I like to cut it in half once lengthwise, and then cut it into long strips of the same width and depth. I then cut the pieces in half again so that I have short cuboids of tofu.

Place enough tofu into the batter so that they all have space to move. Don’t be afraid to work in batches. Coat each piece of tofu with batter, and then transfer them to the breading. Coat each piece generously in the breeding, gently pressing the breading into the tofu. Work until all of the tofu is battered and breaded.

Place the tofu onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Spray the pieces with cooking spray to help them brown. Bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes, turning halfway. Watch them. When they are brown and crispy all around, they are done.

Cheese Sauce (heavily inspired by  Hot For Food):

  • 2 C peeled, cubed, cooked white potato
  • 1 C peeled, cubed, cooked carrot
  • ½ C diced onion
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup roasted red pepper
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 12 pickled jalapeño slices
  • 6 tbsp jalapeño pickling liquid
  • 4 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp tapioca flour/starch
  • ½ C sunflower oil
  • ½ C non-dairy milk (can sub water)
  • ¼ tsp liquid smoke

Boil the potatoes, carrots, and onion for exactly 10 minutes. Drain. Add the cooked potatoes, carrots, and onions to a high-speed blender along with the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth and viscous.

TVP Bacon Bits (based on The Edgy Veg’s rice paper bacon recipe):

  • 5 tbsp TVP
  • 3 tbsp warm water
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • ½ Tbsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp liquid smoke
  • ½ Tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp of Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Mix everything but the TVP together in a small bowl or measuring cup. Stir in the TVP. Let set for at least 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spread the mixture into a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or foil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. You want the texture to be a bit chewy, almost like chopped up jerky. Let cool to room temperature.