This Creamy Miso Pasta with Tofu and Asparagus is the comfort food you need this spring! It’s wholesome and incredibly flavorful. The best plant-based dinner ready in 20 minutes or less.
When I feel a little burned out from everyday cooking, I often turn to Japanese-style pasta for dinner. They are quick, simple and so flavorful, just like this Creamy Miso Pasta With Tofu and Asparagus.
Here, I paired the pasta with gloriously green asparagus with Japanese flavors, giving the dish a unique flair. It is a lovely nod to the warmer days ahead while still offering ultimate comfort.
Why You’ll Love This Creamy Miso Pasta
There are a lot of great things you’ll love about this wholesome pasta:
- Utilizes pantry-friendly ingredients like pasta, miso, and tofu.
- Fast and nutritious – The tofu provides satisfying plant-based protein and asparagus packs with nutrients and fiber. The whole meal comes together in 20 minutes.
- Easily adaptable – Since it’s springtime, I love using asparagus to highlight the seasonal green in my recipes. You can always improvise and use other vegetables such as fresh peas, snap peas, edamame, fava beans, broccoli, zucchini, and so on. If you like, feel free to toss in 1-2 more vegetables for extra texture.
What Makes The Pasta Creamy?
It’s not heavy cream or regular milk, but soy milk! In Japanese cooking, you’ll find soy milk being used as the secret ingredient to lend sweetness and creaminess to dishes like vegetarian ramen broth, hot pot, and pasta. It’s plant-based and makes a tasty choice for vegetarian or vegan recipes.
Flavoring the soy milk with miso and soy sauce can really wake things up. The result is a pasta that is a little sweet, savory, and fresh-tasting, perfect for a springtime meal.
Turning Creamy Miso Sauce to “Soup Pasta”
We can also make a Japanese-style Soup Pasta (スープパスタ) with this recipe. The pasta is sitting on the soup, just about half to one inch deep, instead of being completely submerged in the soup.
The Soup Pasta variations include cream base, tomato base, Japanese-style dashi base, seafood stock base, vegetable broth base, and so on. Think of it as spaghetti served in a small amount of savory soup.
Soup Pasta is usually served with both spoon and fork. It’s such a wonderful world of both soup and pasta!
If you want to try the Soup Pasta version of this recipe, just double the soy milk mixture and pasta water (see recipe below).
7 Key Ingredients You’ll Need (and Sub)
- Fried tofu – I recommend using this fried tofu because it sustains its shape (no crumble!) and has more flavor than plain firm tofu.
- Asparagus – Be flexible and use any greens you have. Fresh peas, snap peas, edamame, fava beans, broccoli, and zucchini are wonderful.
- Spaghetti – I recommend spaghetti, but you can use any shapes of pasta.
- Soy milk – In Japanese-style pasta, you see many variations of Tonyu Cream Pasta (豆乳クリームパスタ). Use cow’s milk only for a white cream base sauce made with bechamel sauce.
- Miso – Soy milk is mild, but adding miso boosts the flavors!
- Soy sauce – A hint of soy sauce adds umami and it’s a must for most of the Japanese-style pasta.
- Shichimi Togarashi – Give it a kick with a good sprinkling of Shichimi Togarashi (Japanese Seven Spice mix)!
This Miso Pasta with Tofu and Asparagus is a minimalist recipe that I treasure on busy days. I hope you enjoy it too! And stay tuned for more spring-inspired recipes that will see you through the transition between seasons. If you like miso-infused pasta, readers love this easy miso butter pasta with tuna and cabbage.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Creamy Miso Pasta with Tofu and Asparagus (Vegan)
- 1 fried firm tofu (6.5 oz, 184 g)
- 4 oz asparagus spears
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- freshly ground black pepper
For Cooking Spaghetti
- 1 ½ Tbsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- 7 oz spaghetti
Soy Milk Sauce
- ½ cup unsweetened soy milk (double the amount if you want to make it soup pasta)
- 2 tsp miso (double the amount for soup pasta; you can use any type of miso except for Hatcho Miso - white miso is milder, red miso is bolder and saltier, and yellow miso (Awase Miso) is in between)
- 1 tsp soy sauce (double the amount for soup pasta)
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Make Miso Soymilk Sauce/Soup
- In a measuring cup, combine ½ cup soy milk, 2 tsp miso, and 1 tsp soy sauce, and mix all together. If you want to make it into a "soup pasta" (see my blog post), double the amount of these ingredients.
To Prepare Pasta Ingredients
- Wrap the tofu with a paper towel and remove any moisture. Cut the tofu into small cubes (It would be easier to eat if you cut the tofu into smaller cubes).
- Trim off the ends of asparagus and cut it diagonally into thin slices.
To Cook Spaghetti
- Start boiling 4 quarts (16 cups, 3.8 L) water in a large pot (I used a 4.5 QT Dutch oven). Once boiling, add 1 ½ Tbsp salt and spaghetti.
- Stir to make sure spaghetti doesn’t stick to each other. Tip: I usually reduce the cooking time by 1 minute if I have to continue cooking the pasta afterward. Drain if you finish cooking the spaghetti first, but you should be able to cook the rest of the ingredients in 10 minutes while spaghetti is being cooked.
To Cook Pasta
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add tofu cubes and saute until they are coated with oil and warm.
- Add asparagus and season with salt.
- Add the soy milk mixture to the pan and lower the heat to medium-low heat (to avoid curdling).
- Reserve 4 Tbsp (¼ cup, 60 ml) of pasta water and add to the frying pan. If you are making the "soup pasta", then add 4 more Tbsp of pasta water here.
- By this time, your spaghetti should be done (otherwise, turn off the heat and wait for spaghetti to finish cooking). Pick up the noodles with a pair of tongs (or you can quickly drain in the sink) and add to the pan. Increase the heat to medium and toss the spaghetti to mix all together.
- Taste and add salt if needed. The reserved pasta water I added has enough salt so I do not add additional salt here. Serve the pasta to individual dishes. Sprinkle with Shichimi Togarashi if you like a kick of spice. Enjoy!