Imagine: you are trundling along a Spanish promenade at twilight, hoping to find somewhere to enjoy your evening meal. The nighttime heat is causing your forehead to ever-so-slightly perspire and you are desperate to empty a large glass of anything down your gullet. You spot a bustling eatery – fairy lights and all. The outdoor seating area is cosy and quaint: busy, but not heaving. As the waiter shows you to your table, you vow to your partner-in-dine that tonight you will be ‘exotic’, ‘push the boat out’ and ‘try something new’. You scan the menu and it immediately catches your eye. You converse with the person sitting opposite you about whether you should just ‘play it safe’. They tease “weren’t you being ‘exotic’ tonight?” The waiter returns and you breathe. You point to the dish and ask for the cheapest wine. The dish is delivered and the smell envelopes you. Mmm, the carbonara. You are a typical Brit abroad.
I truly believe eating a carbonara is a form of self-care. Its velvety texture and creamy consistency is the ultimate comfort blanket. When you think of the traditional dish however, you often remember the double cream, the fatty bacon bits, the eggs, the cheese and the lashings of butter. Your mouth will love you, but your arteries and maybe your ethics? Hmmm.
A carbonara is a serious treat, but it does not have to come at an expense. So – whether you regularly eat plant-based; are trying to cut down your meat and dairy consumption or just want a ‘lighter’ version of a dreamy carbonara – I got you. Introducing my vegan carbonara recipe.
I haven’t listed a set amount for most of the ingredients in this recipe. That’s because I believe a carbonara should be adapted to suit your taste. If it needs more pepper, then it needs more pepper. If you don’t like mushrooms, use more meat analogue and vice versa. It’s your dish.
Pasta – I like using tagliatelle and spaghetti, but penne, angel hair, rigatoni or anything in the cupboard will do. A serving is usually a fistful, but feel free to go wild.
Mushrooms – closed-cup or chestnut.
Garlic – fresh, paste or granules.
Meat Analogue – a meat substitute to replace the bacon/pancetta. I usually use a vegan bacon.
Roughly 700ml of Alt.milk – I’ve made carbonara’s with oat, soya, almond and pea milk. The best results are oat and pea as they seem to thicken it up faster. Any Alt. Milk will work fine.
1-2 tbsp of Plain Flour
1tsp of Wholegrain Mustard
- Slice up mushrooms, dice onion(s) and add to a frying pan on low heat. Mix in garlic, pepper, the meat analogue and a knob of butter. Cook until garlic starts sweating (if fresh) or until ingredients take on a golden brown colour.
- Bring a saucepan to the boil and add your pasta. Sprinkle in salt. Your pasta should take between 8 – 12 minutes to soften up.
- Add one table spoon of plain flour to the vegetable pan (you can add a second later if needed) and then add a glug of alt. milk. Add an initial pinch of smoked paprika as well as pepper, chives and salt. Stir continuously. Add a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard.
- Add more milk and seasonings to your taste as you go. On average, I usually use around 700ml of Alt. Milk. The consistency is meant to be quite liquidy. Add another spoonful of flour to make the sauce thicker if you desire.
- Once cooked, drain the pasta and pour the sauce over. Coat thoroughly and add any more seasoning to desired taste. Top with chives.
- Serve with homemade garlic bread and enjoy!
Let me know if you make a version of this vegan carbonara! I’d love for you to share your pictures with me via Instagram. You can find me at @ellalascott.