Back in Hawaii, we LOVED Buca’s.
Not because they had the best pasta ever, or because the bread was flaky and buttery, or even because they offered a $10 off a $20 purchase coupon.
Nope, none of those reasons.
We loved Buca’s because of it’s close proximity to Dave and Buster’s. You see, Ry and I are ADDICTED to games. Those darn coin drop games, FPS games (we’ve passed nearly all of them, some more than once) and even the basketball shooting games (Granted, my highest score is still a pitiful 32 baskets or something ridiculous. I get put to shame by little girls everytime!)!
The thing about Dave and Buster’s that we didn’t like was their lack of vegetarian options. I mean, there’s only so many veggie burgers and french fries you can have before you crave something different! Haha. In any case, Buca’s was directly below DnB’s and has tons of pasta…and who doesn’t love pasta!?
Our favorite was the Spicy Chicken Rigatoni. The spicy, tomato-ey sauce with just a touch of creaminess. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure we never ordered anything else. Ahahaha. So much for not wanting to eat the same thing all the time!
At some point, while we were home in Hawaii, I decided I would finagle the recipe in our own kitchen. I thought, it can’t be THAT hard, right? It’s just pasta! Luckily, google was on my side and a quick search linked me to an actual recipe.
I did change it up a bit, though:
First. I added tofu “ground meat”. It looks gross. Like an unmentionable-flavor of ice cake. But seriously, it’s just frozen tofu.
Once you let it thaw and squeeze out any extra liquid, you’re left with a soft spongy, crumbly version of tofu.
This tofu works wonders (texture and taste wise) in spaghetti sauces. It doesn’t have that distinct soy aftertaste that so many “textured vegetable proteins” can have, but it still has that almost-but-not-quite meaty texture to it.
Okay, okay. Maybe after a year and a half of not eating meat, I’ve forgotten that texture all together….but I swear, it’s pretty close! Hahaha. Doesn’t this at least look legit?
I also subbed out the alfredo sauce for 2 reasons. First, I didn’t have any. Second, after I realized I didn’t have any, I also realized alfredo sauce would mean another hour at the gym (can you say butter, cream and cheese?). Since I was already averaging 0 hours a week, I figure I should help myself out.
Especially since I decided to make garlic cheeeeeeeese bread.
Notice the two forks. I swear we shared this one plate and I did NOT eat three pieces of bread and all that pasta by myself.
Recipe, slightly adapted:
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oli
- 4 Cloves Garlic, chopped
- 1 ½ cups Marinara Sauce
- ½ cup Extra Firm Tofu, Frozen, Thawed and crumbled
- ½ cup Heavy Cream
- Salt, to taste
- ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
The night before, drain and freeze tofu. Take out to thaw the morning you’re planning to make this and leave in the fridge.
- Heat olive oil and saute garlic and crushed pepper for a few minutes.
- Add the marinara sauce then the tofu crumbles (Adding the tofu first sometimes leads to tofu immediately getting stuck to the bottom of the pan. -_-)
- Add cayenne pepper (opetional)
- Stir in heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Simmer for an additional 5 minutes then toss with cooked pasta
- Top with freshly grated parmesan
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Have you ever ordered fried rice from Green Papaya and requested it to be made with brown rice? No? Do it. It's seriously one of the best fried rice dishes I've ever had. Something about the nutty-ness of the brown rice and the crazy mashup of whatever seasoning they use makes it one of our all time favorite places to go. One problem: replicating it is pretty tough. Ironically, as I stared at the plate, trying to figure out why it was so delish, the rice called out to me. "Not brown rice!" Okay, that was actually Ry saying that as he tried another bite. I agreed with him, though. It definitely didn't look brown. So we headed for chinatown, in search of answers. more