Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara

Though I have no clue why, a few days ago I was seized with the idea of cooking a vegan carbonara—despite never having eaten carbonara in my life, vegan or otherwise. Perhaps I saw a recipe while perusing Pinterest and it lodged in my unconscious? Or maybe I’m just nostalgic for the Sims 2 and preparing a Goopy Carbonara for my hapless Sims? Who knows. But I had to try it.

I fully intended to follow an existing recipe for this pasta dish. I had no frame of reference for how it should taste, and I only vaguely understood the premise: add uncooked eggs (and maybe cheese?) to hot pasta; wait for eggs to cook through (but not scramble!) and create a rich “sauce” that clings to the pasta. Top with bacon?

But as I opened up tab after tab of vegan carbonara recipes, nothing seemed quite right. One recipe relied solely on silken tofu, which seemed like it would give a decent texture but would risk the end result tasting overpoweringly of soy. Another recipe used an entire half cup of Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg—a product I appreciate in theory but am frequently disappointed with in practice—to get that clingy, eggy texture, which made sense, but I didn’t have a whole package of the product on hand. And a third recipe employed that ubiquitous vegan favorite, cashews, to add a nice rich mouthfeel, but that method seemed like it would create a more generic cream sauce, not carbonara. All these elements seemed useful in the end goal of creating a true carbonara, but not by themselves. I had to mix them.

Vegan pasta carbonara
And thus, my very own vegan carbonara. A small addition of the VeganEgg provides that clingy texture, cashews offer a creamy and slightly cheesy flavor, and a small amount of silken tofu adds bulk. I included black salt to approximate eggy flavor and threw in a few scoops of nutritional yeast for cheesiness. Topped with crispy bacon, my carbonara was a surprising and delicious success. It’s quite filling, too—I had leftovers for lunch the next day. Now that’s the measure of a true winner.

Vegan Carbonara

Serves 3-4

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/3 cup cashews, soaked for as long as your blender requires it
  • 2 T VeganEgg + 1/2 cup cold water
  • 7 oz soft silken tofu (half a vacuum-sealed block)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or other nondairy milk)
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 T nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tsp kala namak (black salt; if you don’t have it, just use regular salt)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 pieces your favorite vegan bacon, chopped into small pieces (1/2″ or so)
  • 12 oz pasta
  • Parsley for serving (optional)

Method

Set your cashews soaking. If you have a high-powered blender, you can soak them briefly (I soaked mine while prepping the rest of the sauce); if not, be sure to start ahead of time as required by your blender.

In a small bowl, add the VeganEgg and the cold water and whisk forcefully until the powder is incorporated. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for another 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Turn off the heat and set aside, but keep the pan on the stove for later.

At this point, start boiling a pot of water for your pasta.

Drain the cashews and add them to your blender, along with the VeganEgg mixture, silken tofu, cooked onions and garlic, almond milk, lemon juice, black salt, nooch, and a few grinds of pepper. Blend on high until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings as necessary. Set sauce aside.

Heat a small amount of oil in the pan you used for the onion and garlic and add the chopped bacon.

By now, the pasta water should be boiling. Add pasta and set a timer for al dente pasta, following the package’s instructions. As the pasta cooks, monitor the bacon. It should heat through and become somewhat crispy. When the bacon is done (about 7 minutes), you can either leave it in the pan (so that it mixes in with the pasta and sauce) or scoop it into a small bowl (so you can top the pasta with it). Either way, turn the heat off but leave the pan on the burner.

When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and immediately add it to the hot pan. Pour the sauce over it and cook for about 4-5 minutes on low heat, using a spatula to coat all the pasta. When the sauce starts clinging to the pasta and darkening a bit in color, it’s ready. Serve topped with bacon and parsley (if using) and a few more grinds of fresh pepper. Enjoy!

Notes

  • I used Sweet Earth Natural Foods‘ Benevolent Bacon, but you can go with any brand you prefer. You could also make your own crumbles from tofu or tempeh, although a fattier product works best here—the fat released in cooking helps everything cling together at the end.
  • If you don’t have the VeganEgg on hand, I think you can forgo it. You’ll just lose some of that clingy, eggy texture. Feel free to experiment with other ingredients in its place!
  • I used linguine for my pasta, but spaghetti and rigatoni are also common choices.
  • A quality vegan parmesan would be a perfect addition here. If you have it, swap it for the nooch and use as much as you need to get a nice cheesy flavor.
  • Timing is important here; you want the spaghetti to be nice and hot when you add the sauce. For that reason, make sure to follow the steps as written.

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Vegan pasta carbonara // govegga.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spicy Vegan Chorizo Pasta

Do you have a favorite convenience food product? A go-to, gotta-have-it-in-the-fridge ingredient that you can’t pass up at the grocery store?

Mine might well be Trader Joe’s soy chorizo. It’s so damn tasty and versatile! With just the right kick of heat, it’s a perfect protein-rich accompaniment to lots of recipes. I typically use it in a quick and easy potato and pepper hash with lots of onions and garlic. It’s a simple dish that makes a superb savory side for brunch, or even a quick dinner.

Recently, though, I decided to try something different with my chorizo and pair it with pasta instead. I’m so glad I did! The result was a spicy, belly-filling dinner that left both Steven and me well-sated. Another benefit? Unlike saucier pasta dishes, this one reheats well because there’s very little moisture to make the pasta soggy. Bam — tomorrow’s lunch is ready now.

I leave the cherry tomatoes whole because I love the way they burst as you eat them, giving a little acidity to the dish. If you only have large tomatoes, feel free to chop them into small pieces and use those.

If you’re looking askance at the inclusion of coconut milk, rest assured you can’t taste it. In fact, when Steven was cleaning up up after dinner, he asked me why there was an open can of coconut milk in the kitchen — and was thoroughly surprised when I told him that it was part of the meal he’d just eaten.

Spicy Vegan Chorizo Pasta // govegga.com

Spicy Vegan Chorizo Pasta

Serves 3-4, depending on how hungry you are

  • 8 oz. whole wheat penne (okay, fine, you can use white pasta if you prefer!)
  • ~1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced into thin half-moons
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 package TJ’s soy chorizo
  • 1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream (from the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk)
  • Optional: chopped roasted red peppers, handful of kale (roughly shredded)

First, start heating your pasta water. At the same time, heat the olive oil over medium and add the onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent, then add the garlic and tomatoes. Cook for another minute, then add the soy chorizo. (This can get messy — I recommend slicing it in half right through the package, then slicing the chorizo casing lengthwise with a knife and squeezing it into the pan.)If using kale or roasted red peppers, add now. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes and turn the heat down to low.

Meanwhile, if the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. Al dente pasta works best here. When it’s ready, drain it and set aside.

Just before adding the pasta, pour in the coconut cream and stir to combine. Add the pasta and mix throughly, so the sauce coats the pasta. Let sit for about one more minute before serving.

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Spicy Vegan Chorizo Pasta // govegga.com

HOUSEKEEPING

A couple notes before you go:

  • Go Vegga now has a Facebook page! Check it out here if you’re so inclined. I only post 2-3 times a week, so no worries about flooding your timeline.
  • Traveling and veganism are two of my passions, so I’ve just started a Pinterest board focused on vegan travel options. Give it a follow if you’d like a comprehensive resource for how to find vegan food on the go. (I’ve got lots of other great vegan-themed boards too; you can peruse them here.)
  • The Vegan Month of Food (aka Vegan MoFo) starts November 1st! Get ready for a whole month of daily food posts. This will be my eighth (!!!) year participating!

Veganized American Chop Suey

VeganMoFo 2015 banner

Day 2: Recreate a meal from your childhood.

Me: “Have you ever had American chop suey?”
Steven: “What? No. What is that?!”
Me: “It’s like, elbow macaroni and beef in tomato sauce. My mom used to make it a lot when I was a kid.”
Steven: “OH! I called that cowboy mac!”

American chop suey, cowboy mac… whatever you call it, this ever-so-basic dinner is pure comfort food. Somewhere between a casserole, a chili, and plain old pasta with tomato sauce, it was a dinnertime standby during my childhood, yet I haven’t had it for probably 15 years. Today’s MoFo prompt, therefore, was the perfect excuse!

American Chop Suey

American Chop Suey (aka Cowboy Mac)
Serves four

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 cup beefy crumbles, store-bought or homemade*
  • 1/2 T garlic powder
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
  • 8 oz elbow macaroni
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add water to a pot and bring to a boil for the pasta. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large sauce pot over medium, then add the onion, pepper, beefy crumbles, and garlic powder. Sauté over medium for 6-8 minutes or until the crumbles are browned. Add both cans of tomatoes, stir to combine, and simmer uncovered on low.

In the meantime, when the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to the package’s instructions.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the pot with the sauce. Simmer together for another 5 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

* I made the Basic Seitan Crumbles from 500 Vegan Recipes.

American Chop Suey

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Seasonal Fruits Gone Savory: Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Bake


This week has been an odd one, work-wise. I took Monday off (since I was in RI) and then went in a bit late on Tuesday after flying back from RI in the morning. Wednesday through Friday is my 90-day orientation, a three-day blast of info that new hires don’t receive until they’ve been at my organization for about three months. Truth be told, I already know most of what we’ve been covering, so my mind has been wandering a bit, particularly today. This afternoon, I started thinking about what I was going to make for dinner. A worthy use of my brainpower, I think!

I decided to use that lackluster pumpkin fauxsage in a pasta bake. Not just any pasta bake, though—a creamy pumpkin pasta bake! A few quick Google searches convinced me that I was on to something promising. The results did not disappoint.

Three-quarter photo of a bowl of spiral pasta with chunks of tomato and fauxsage.

My bake featured fusilli pasta, diced pumpkin fauxsage, and a well-drained can of diced tomatoes. I topped it all with a creamy sauce. I don’t have a very precise recipe, but here’s what I whizzed up in my blender:

  • Pumpkin puree
  • Non-dairy milk
  • Yellow miso
  • Nutritional yeast
  • A glug or two of olive oil
  • A few small splashes of tamari and Bragg’s
  • Spices (herbed garlic salt, paprika, and black pepper)

I tossed my cooked pasta, tomatoes, and fauxsage with the sauce and baked it all, uncovered, for about 15 minutes at 350˚. It was a no-fuss, fairly easy, and very delicious dinner that prompted S to “remind” me that he always loves pasta bakes. Noted.

What’s your favorite type of pasta bake?

P.S. Yes, this is the second day in a row I’ve used an Instagram photo. I got a bit behind in my posts after my vacation this weekend, meaning that the past two nights I’ve needed to cook something, photograph it, and blog about it in the same night. It’s getting a little late in the month for good natural lighting, so Instagram it is!

Friday Favorite: Creamy Avocado Pasta

White MoFo fist logo on an orange background with the text "Friday Favorite: Creamy Avocado Pasta."

White MoFo fist logo on an orange background with the text "Vegan Staples: Noodles!"

This post is a twofer – it’s a Friday Favorite (one of my favorite recipes) and a Vegan Staple (an example of how to spice up a fallback vegan food item). This recipe is doing double duty!

S and I share a document on Google Docs (‘scuse me, Google Drive) titled “Yummy Things We’ve Cooked.” Its contents are exactly what you’d imagine – a list of dishes we’ve prepared, eaten, and enjoyed. It’s our go-to source when we’re strained, stressed, or just plain stumped at dinnertime. The dishes in the document range from complex (see: vegan pho) to ridiculously easy (see: colcannon). On the “ridiculously easy” end of the spectrum is one of our top choices for a quick, simple, and satisfying meal – the 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta from the wonderful Angela at Oh She Glows. (Or, as S titled this dish in our document, “Creamy noodles of some kind… what was it?”)

The concept is simple – you just blend a ripe avocado with lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, basil, and salt and toss the resulting sauce with your favorite noodles. Avocado blends like a dream, creating a luscious sauce that perfectly clings to your noodles. The result is a creamy, rich, and incredibly satisfying dish.

Top-down view of a small white plate with a pile of white noodles coated in a creamy, light green sauce. The noodles are topped with black pepper and a single whole basil leaf.

Noodly perfection.

The beauty of this dish is that it’s incredibly versatile – don’t like lots of garlic? Use a single clove! Don’t have fresh basil? Omit it! And you can use any type of  noodles – on this occasion, S picked up some locally made black olive and garlic fettuccini, which lent the dish a little extra flavor. Spaghetti or even soba noodles are fine choices, too.

Although we usually eat this dish alone – it’s deceptively filling! – it’d be fantastic with a slice of fresh crusty bread or a simple side salad. If you’re looking for a low-effort, high-rewards dish to add to your meal rotation, try this one – you can thank me later.

What’s your quick weeknight meal of choice? Which OhSheGlows recipes are your favorites?