Pasta alla carbonara, the classic Italian dish, typically combines spaghetti with fried pancetta or bacon and a sauce made with eggs, cheese and cream. Decidedly non-vegan fare, but here of course done vegan-style!
Nuts show their magic once again in this velvety, animal-product free sauce (with tahini and cashew butter), and salty, crispy tempeh stands in brilliantly for the pancetta.
Ricki Heller is to thank for this recipe. Ricki writes the blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs, home to a phenomenal number of fantastic vegan kitchen creations-“sugar-free, gluten-free, allergy-friendly”.
I’ve made a lot of her recipes: Grain-free coconut flour biscuits, Edamame seaweed salad, Lemony baked cheesecake, Warm chickpea + artichoke salad, Chocolate almond mousse, Fruity cabbage salad, Almond + curry sauce, Quinoa chickpea olive + prune tagine, Carob + date pancakes….just to name a few, and I can’t name any failures!
My Granny was eating with us the evening I made this pasta and knowing that she doesn’t usually eat a lot I just gave her a small amount, but she was nabbing bits of the tempeh bacon from the serving dish and said how much she enjoyed it. I’ll make a vegan out of her yet…!
There are a few components to the recipe but it really doesn’t take that long to come together so don’t be put off by the ingredients list and instructions.
Tempeh Pasta Carbonara
(Minimally adapted from Diet, Dessert, and Dogs)
For the Tempeh Bacon:
1/2 8oz/225g pkg Tempeh, very thinly sliced and diced into bite-size pieces.
1 1/2 T Tamari
1T Lemon juice
1/8 t Liquid smoke OR 1/4t smoked paprika
1 Clove garlic, minced
1T Olive oil
3-4 Drops liquid stevia OR 2-3t Agave/Maple syrup
1/4C + 1 T Water
For the Sauce:
1T Cashew butter
1/2T White miso
1/8t Dijon mustard
Salt + Pepper
1/2C Almond milk, unsweetened
1/2C Vegetable broth
1T Arrowroot + 2-3T Hot Water
1/2C Green peas (fresh or frozen)
Enough Pasta for 2-3, any variety (I did 150g/1 heaping cup Brown Rice Fusilli which was enough for 3 modest servings)
1-2T Chopped Parsley
Prepare the tempeh bacon: Slice tempeh up, mix remaining ingredients in a large frying pan over medium heat and add tempeh.
Let simmer gently for approx 5 minutes until sauce begins to evaporate. Flip pieces over carefully and leave to brown for another 5 minutes. Flip tempeh one more time and cook the other side until brown and crispy. Turn off heat and set pan aside.
Prepare the pasta according to package instructions, in last couple of minutes of cooking time add your peas so they cook through. Drain, reserving 1/4 C pasta water.
While pasta is cooking prepare sauce:
In a medium pan over low heat whisk together ingredients on list up to and including salt and pepper. Gradually add milk and broth, whisking all the while to avoid lumps and produce a smooth sauce.
In a small bowl dissolve the arrowroot in the hot water. Gradually add this mixture to the sauce pan, keep whisking as it will thicken up pretty quickly. Continue to cook for a further minute until thick and creamy.
Add pasta, peas and tempeh pieces to the sauce pot, stir sauce through, cover and warm through for approx 5 minutes. If it looks a little dry add the reserved pasta water and continue to heat until warm and everything is nicely coated in the sauce.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
Have you veganized any seemingly very un-vegan recipes?
What are your favourite Ricki recipes? If you’re unfamiliar with Diet, Dessert, and Dogs get over there now!