Delicious Vegetarian Carbonara

Vegetarian Pasta Carbonara

Okay so I broke all the pasta carbonara rules. I used onions, garlic and butter, and peas, of all things! To top it off I didn’t even use guanciale or panchetta, but tempeh bacon. In my defense, I had good reason to mix things up a bit. With super flavorful guanciale, you really don’t need things like onions and garlic, but when you’re going veggie, these ingredients add great umami so I thought it was worth it.

Carbonara is made by tossing hot cooked pasta with guanciale and a mixture of raw eggs and cheese so that the eggs create a creamy sauce. The trick is to not have the eggs scramble. I’ve always thought that this technique would be tough and I was a little apprehensive, but it was easy. I used this trick on Expats in Italy: add the pasta to the bowl with the eggs instead of adding the eggs to the pasta pan. The end result? Supper creamy sauce coating the spaghetti, mmm…it was delicious!

I just heard about a great seitan bacon from Upton Naturals which looks fantastic! I used tempeh bacon this time, but next time, I’ll try the seitan bacon. I fried the tempeh bacon separately because it breaks up so easily. If using seitan bacon, I would add it to the onions and garlic instead.

1 egg
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup parmesan cheese or other Italian hard cheese finely shredded
Fresh group pepper
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves minced
1/2 cup frozen peas
8 ounces spaghetti
1 tablespoon more olive oil (if using tempeh bacon)
4 pieces tempeh or other bacon substitute

  1. In a mixing bowl beat the eggs with the cheese and a good amount of fresh ground black pepper.
  2. Heat olive oil and butter in a saute pan. Saute onions and garlic until the onions are translucent. If you are using seitan bacon, add it now and cook until semi crisp (for tempeh bacon, cook separately). Add the frozen peas and a little salt and cook until the peas are cooked through.
  3. If using tempeh bacon, heat the rest of the olive oil in a skillet and cook on each side until semi-crisp. Cut into pieces and add to onions, garlic and peas.
  4. Meanwhile heat a big pan of water to boiling and cook the spaghetti according to the package direction, but don’t drain! Using tongs or a pasta utensil, add the spaghetti without draining the excess water into the onions, garlic, pea and bacon pan, and mix. Then pour this into the mixing bowl with the eggs and cheese. Add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water and stir to coat.

Vegetarian Pasta Carbonara 2

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