Vegan Pasta Carbonara
With a creamy sauce and morsels of smoky tofu, this plant-based recipe satisfies your craving for spaghetti carbonara.
Italian gastronomy, celebrated the world over, typically features dairy or meat. Pizza, spaghetti bolognese and tiramisu are a few favourites that come to mind. However, as more people become aware of the climate impact of raising livestock, they are embracing alternatives to meat and cheese.
Classic carbonara features pasta, usually spaghetti, tossed with beaten eggs and topped with guanciale cured meat and pecorino cheese – hearty enough for the hungriest carbonari (charcoal men). But just as every nonna adds her own touch to recipes, this version replaces the traditional ingredients with plant-based substitutes. The result: a satisfying, umami-filled dish that’s as good for the body as it is for the planet.
Ingredients (4 generous servings)
- 1 package smoked tofu
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Olive oil
- 250ml oat milk or other non-dairy milk
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 onion, chopped
- 350g spaghetti (or rigatoni)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Optional toppings: chopped flat-leaf parsley, truffle oil, grated vegan cheese
1. Dice the tofu. Toss 2/3 with the paprika. In a deep frying pan, heat some olive oil and sear the tofu cubes until crisp on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
2. In a blender, combine the remaining tofu, the oat milk, cornflour and turmeric. Blend until smooth.
3. In the same frying pan, caramelise the chopped onions in more olive oil. Pour in the contents of the blender and simmer until the sauce is thick and bubbly. Salt to taste.
4. As the sauce is simmering, boil a large pot of salted water and cook the spaghetti until al dente.
5. Reserve a cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce in the frying pan, and toss well. Add the reserved pasta water as necessary until the dish is creamy. (You likely will not need all the water.)
6. Add the crispy tofu and toss again. Serve immediately with freshly ground black pepper and any of the optional toppings.
Try replacing the smoked tofu with fresh portobello or shiitake mushrooms. If you have liquid smoke, add a few drops in step 3.
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