Serengeti Spaghetti with Tofu

In truth, this is probably more Ethiopian than Tanzanian (where the Serengeti is), but I couldn’t let that rhyme pass me by. Seriously, have you ever heard anything that rhymes with spaghetti? Ok, so Yeti rhymes, too…and Betty and Teddy, even Freddy….but Serengeti has the alliteration and almost the same the syllables to make it the big winner. Which brings me to the recipe.

This is going to look like a lot more effort than it is, but don’t believe it. True, you can’t just toss it all together and eat in 15 minutes, but really all you’re doing is making a special earth balance concoction, marinading tofu (then cooking it), making a super easy sauce and cooking pasta. A lot of it is done ahead of time, so it really comes together pretty quickly. Of course, it will smell so good that it will feel like a long time, but it’s worth the wait. And really, it doesn’t take that long.

Spiced Butter
1 stick earth balance
2 Tbsp finely minced red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
1/4 tsp fenugreek
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp berbere
pinch of ground caramom
2 Tbsp fresh basil, minced

Combine all of the above in a small saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. This can be strained if you want, but I don’t bother. It’s great added to soups, rice, to top veggies…you name it. Just store it in the fridge and have fun with it.

Serengeti Spaghetti with Tofu
serves 3-4

16 oz extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
2 Tbsp olive oil (divided use)
1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp berbere (divided use)*
3 cloves garlic, crushed (divided use)
1 Tbsp tamari
1 tsp chopped mint
oil for panfrying
2 Tbsp spiced butter
1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 a red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in 1/2
1/2 pound spaghetti
chopped basil/mint for garnish (optional)

Make the marinade for the tofu by combining 1 Tbsp olive oil, the broth, 1 Tbsp berbere, 1 clove garlic, the tamari and the mint. Cut the tofu into quarters, then cut the quarters into 4 long strips each. Marinade for at least an hour, but the longer the better.

Now make the sauce. Melt 2 Tbsp spiced butter in a small frying pan. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add the onion and saute. Then add the red pepper, 1/2 tsp berbere and 2 cloves garlic. Cook for a minute or 2, then add the cherry tomatoes. Let simmer about 15 minutes so the tomatoes break down and the flavors. Check the seasonings, adding salt or pepper if you want.

While it’s simmering, put your spaghetti on to boil and heat a frying pan with as little oil as you can manage for panfrying the tofu. Brown the tofu on all sides and keep warm until you’re ready to pile it all on your plate.

Toss the sauce with the drained spaghetti, then serve with tofu strips on top. Garnish as desired.

* Berbere is an Ethiopian spice blend with a lot of different variations. Right now, I’m using some from Penzey’s, but I look forward to making my own. It’s my latest favorite thing. That’s a subtle way of saying you’ll be seeing more of it on this blog. For more info check Wiki.

It’s not often you can say you’ve eaten Ethiopian and Italian in the same meal. But try this and you can!

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  1. Posted January 17, 2009 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Great recipe! I hope to try it soon.

  2. Posted January 17, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    The berbere spice sounds intriguing- I’ll have to pick up some. Thanks for the recipe, and great rhyming title :)

  3. Posted January 18, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Ooh I love the use of all the exotic spices I haven’t tried before. That butter sounds awesome!

  4. Posted January 18, 2009 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Nicole, if you try it, please let me know!

    DJKarma, that berbere truly is my latest love.

    Carrie, I know… all the unusual (to me) spices really get me going.

  5. Posted January 19, 2009 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    Wow that spiced butter sounds great! Nice recipe!

  6. Posted January 19, 2009 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Berbere is my favourite spice mix! You have the best ideas ever.

  7. Posted January 21, 2009 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    This sounds like a great spice combo. I LOVE the name!!

  8. Posted January 22, 2009 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    This is the FIRST thing on my list to make when I visit home! Even if it’s for breakfast.

  9. Posted March 17, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Great recipe. For a more authentic flavor, you can simply purchase prepared/imported Berbere from It’s much easier because making real Berbere takes several days as the ingredients are sun-dried in Africa and making genuine Berbere in America is pretty difficult. has the real deal!

    Thanks for posting

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