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Vegetarian Recipes

Vegan Cacio e Pepe with Smoky Balsamic Chickpea tofu

Vegan Cacio e Pepe with Smoky Balsamic Chickpea tofu. Spaghetti is tossed with pepper and vegan parm and then topped generously with smoky chickpea tofu bacony bits for a wonderful weeknight meal. Vegan Recipe, Soy-free, Can be Gluten-free.

This Cacio e pepe is a fabulous pasta dish with flavors which feel like you spent hours making it but it is super quick to put together! Mix up the vegan parmesan, crisp up some chickpea tofu with smoky flavors, make the spaghetti and mix with loads of freshly ground black pepper and herbs and done. You can use store bought vegan parm to speed it up even more.

This Black pepper parmesan spaghetti pasta is flexible, has no soy, can be made without nuts(see recipe notes). Lets make this!

Ingredients for Vegan Cacio e Pepe with Smoky Chickpea Tofu Bits

  • The Smoky Chickpea Tofu needs chickpea tofu, garlic powder, smoked paprika, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and salt or liquid aminos or soy sauce. You can add a few drops of liquid for extra smokyness.
  • The Vegan Parmesan is mix of almond flour, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, lime zest, lime juice, brine from pickles or pickled jalapeno.  You can use other vegan parm, to make nut-free, use a mix of pumpkin seeds and breadcrumbs.
  • The Pasta has Spaghetti, garlic, loads of freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes and fresh herbs.

How to make Vegan Cacio e pepe with Step Photos

Make the smoky chickpea tofu bacony bits by cooking all the ingredients together until the mixtures starts to dry up. Taste and adjust if needed.

Mix the ingredients for the vegan parmesan. Add more lime juice if needed to make a mixture which has fat crumbs.

Saute the garlic, then add in black pepper, pepper flakes and broth, then mix in the spaghetti. Then mix in some parm and some of the smoky chickpea tofu. Cover and rest for a few minutes, then top with more chickpea tofu, black pepper and herbs to serve.

Can I make this Cacio e Pepe gluten-free?

Yes, use gluten-free spagheti or other pasta of choice. Cook according to instructiton on package. Add more pasta water if the pasta dries out too much during sauteing.

Can I make this without Nuts?

To make the parm mixture without almonds, use other nuts such as cashews, macadamia, walnuts or for Nut-free, use mix of 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds blended into a coarse meal and 2 tbsp breadcrumbs.

Vegan Cacio e Pepe

Vegan Cacio e Pepe with Smoky Balsamic Chickpea tofu. Spaghetti is tossed with pepper and vegan parm and the topped generously with smoky chickpea tofu bacony bits for a wonderful weeknight meal. Vegan Recipe, Soy-free, Can be Gluten-free

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time25 mins

Total Time35 mins

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Italian

Keyword: blackpepper parmesan spaghetti, cacio e pepe

Servings: 3

Calories: 552kcal

Author: Vegan Richa


For the Balsamic Roasted Chickpea Tofu:

  • 3/4 cup (186 g) finely chopped chickpea tofu or pressed and chopped firm tofu
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp maple syrup , or use sugar/sweetener of choice
  • 1/4 tsp salt or 1 tsp soy sauce/liquid aminos for soyfree


  • 8 oz Spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic , finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes , divided , use less for less heat
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (use less for less heat)
  • 1/3 cup (37.33 g) vegan parm (recipe below) or use other store bought parm
  • 1/2 cup (118.29 ml) pasta water
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped parsley or basil or othr herbs for garnish

Vegan Parm:

  • 1/3 cup (37.33 g) almond flour , (or a mix of 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds blended into a coarse meal and 2 tbsp breadcrumbs for nut-free)
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp lime or lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp brine from pickle jar or pickled jalapeno, or use 1/4 tsp white vinegar


  • Cook the spaghetti according to instructions on the package and set aside
  • Make the Smoky Chickpea Tofu: Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, Add the chickpea tofu (or pressed and chopped firm tofu). Mix for a few seconds. add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. cook until the sauce thickens. Taste carefully and adjust flavor with more salt, vinegar or maple. and a few drops of liquid smoke for extra smokyness. (This topping is optional, there is tons of flavor in the pasta + vegan parm!)
  • Make the Parm: Mix everything under parm until it resembles fat crumbs. Press and mix a couple of times. Taste and adjust salt and zest.
  • Pasta: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add garlic and cook for half a minute. Add the black pepper and half the pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is golden
  • Add half of the parm and pasta water and bring to a good simmer. Add the spaghetti and toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle in rest of the parm, half the smoky tofu, black pepper, remaining pepper flakes and parsley and toss lightly and serve. Top each bowl with more smoky chickpea tofu.

    Store: Refrigerate for upto 2 days. The pasta absorbs moisture on sitting so Reheat with some water or broth.


Nut-free: Use a mix of 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds blended into a coarse meal and 2 tbsp breadcrumbs.

Nutrition is for 1 serve with regular flour spaghetti.


Nutrition Facts

Vegan Cacio e Pepe

Amount Per Serving

Calories 552 Calories from Fat 180

% Daily Value*

Fat 20g31%

Saturated Fat 2g13%

Sodium 429mg19%

Potassium 448mg13%

Carbohydrates 75g25%

Fiber 8g33%

Sugar 9g10%

Protein 20g40%

Vitamin A 263IU5%

Vitamin C 1mg1%

Calcium 66mg7%

Iron 3mg17%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Vegetarian Recipes


“I want you to come watch the movie with us ON the couch, not be in the kitchen!”

I’ve been filling out this one-question-a-day journals for moms that I received for Christmas. It records a little thought or memory over the last year, and then starts again, so you can see how your answers change over a few years. One of the recent ones, prompted me to jot notes about what I am learning as a mom, and I found the question so general I was basically annoyed. I am a romantic, and also wildly pragmatic. In the span of a day I can tear up over the depths of love I feel for my kids, and also wish for them to have a mute button. We all have worlds within us; mothering pushing me into the corners of myself I am sometimes proud of or other corners ashamed of, but am I learning? Yes, every single day. Sometimes in the moment and other times after a particular season. But in 2021, my answer in the bullet journal was that I see my kids are wanting me to play with them. They aren’t registering all the service and shuttling and laundry and what it takes to pull off a week, they just want to play WITH me. It’s natural for me to move within lists and tasks and responsibilities and hustling, but playing is something I have to pay attention to. For them and for me. We usually do a family movie on Friday nights and my son (6.5), see quote above, pointed out that I don’t actually watch the movie, I tinker in the kitchen and he wants me in the couch cuddle. Flattered, and found out that I’d rather make granola than watch The Croods 🙂 So from annoyed, to passing on the question to fellow parents, what are you learning? Try not to be annoyed. Maybe circle back to it.

I published this recipe over on SKCC a few weeks ago and wanted it to live here. We’re trying to find more family-friendly vegetarian recipes (it’s easy for me to fill up on roasted veggies and big salads, not so much for the kids). This batch lasts us two meals – once with noodles, maybe half zoodles, and the second round on toast or english muffins with cheese melted on top, like a pizza sort of thing? It freezes well and is great to deliver to new parents.


Serves 6


2 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion – roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic
sea salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 head of cauliflower (about ¾ lb. or 12 oz. riced)
1/2 cup of raw walnuts pieces
1/2 tsp. of Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. of fennel seeds – crushed
2 Tbsp. of tomato paste
2 Tbsp. of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup of red wine (or broth of any sort, and double the vinegar to mimic the wine’s acidity)
28 oz. of canned, crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup of red lentils
red pepper flake to taste

For serving

12 oz. of pasta or choice, zoodles, etc.
fresh, torn basil


In a large Dutch-oven or stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium low heat.

In a food processor, pulse the onion and garlic into smaller bits. Add them to the pot with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté to soften, about 3 minutes.

Pulse up the cauliflower florets to get a rice-like texture. Add the riced-cauliflower to the pot and sauté to soften, about 5 minutes.

Pulse the walnuts in the processor and add those to the pot along with the Italian seasoning, fennel seed, another few generous pinches of salt and pepper, tomato paste and balsamic vinegar. Sauté until fragrant.

Add the red wine, cook about 3 minutes, then add the crushed tomatoes, ½ cup water, lentils, pinch of pepper flakes and stir to combine. Turn the heat to low, put the cover ajar and let it simmer gently for 30-35 minutes. Turn off the heat, taste for seasoning and adjust.

Cook your pasta or zoodles according to instructions. Top with cauli Bolognese, grated cheese, fresh basil and enjoy!

The Bolognese will keep in the fridge for a week and can be frozen for a few months.

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