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Recipe Tuesday: Pasta Carbonara

Filed under: Food Recipes & Cooking

Usually Rudy writes our “Recipe Tuesday” posts, but he had some computer problems today (and a he has a gig tonight–you should go!) So we put out an emergency call on Twitter. We got a number of worthy responses, but I let my second brain pick whatever it was most excited by. And the winner is @RickiHeller‘s New Age Vegan Pasta Carbonara. I would seriously love to eat this right now, but instead I’m gonna have to settle for a peanut butter sandwich.

New Age Vegan Pasta Carbonara
This recipe originally appeared on Ricki Heller‘s site, “Diet, Dessert and Dogs.” (And you should go read it there for the fun origin story and reactions.)

When you feel like something substantial but don’t have the time, try this quick and easy sauce. If you’re too rushed to make tempeh bacon, you can use diced smoked tofu, or your favorite brand of prepared “bacon”.

For the bacon (adapted from this recipe):
one 8-ounce (225 g) package tempeh, cut into strips as thin as you can manage (I got about 15 strips from one package)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) Bragg’s liquid aminos, tamari or soy sauce
juice of 1/2 lemon plus enough water to equal 1/3 cup (80 ml)
1/4 tsp (1 ml) liquid smoke or 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) smoked paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
5-10 drops liquid stevia, to your taste (don’t overdo the sweetness in these)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1/2 cup (120 ml) water

For the pasta and sauce:
–enough of your favorite pasta for 4 servings, dry (I used brown rice penne)
1 recipe of your favorite tempeh bacon (see above)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) smooth natural cashew butter
1 Tbsp (15 ml) white miso
1 Tbsp (15 ml) tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 tsp (1 ml) dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp (2. 5 ml) turmeric
pinch nutmeg
fine sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup soy or almond milk
1 cup (240 ml) vegetable broth or stock
2 Tbsp (30 ml) potato or arrowroot starch
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh or frozen peas (no need to defrost if frozen)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) chopped fresh parsley

Prepare the bacon: cut the tempeh into strips as thin as you can manage (I got 15 strips). In a large frying pan, mix together the remaining ingredients. Add the tempeh and turn each strip over a few times to coat it in the sauce.

Turn on heat to medium-low and cook the strips for about 5 minutes until the sauce has begun to evaporate and the bottoms are browned; turn the strips and continue to cook the other side, pushing the bacon back and forth occasionally to prevent sticking, until the liquid ingredients have been absorbed and the bacon is browned and crisp on the outside, another 5-10 minutes. If the liquid is absorbed too quickly, add a little more water, as needed. Turn off heat and set aside.

Prepare the pasta: Set your water boiling in a large pot. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: In a medium pot, whisk together the cashew butter, miso, tahini, mustard, garlic, turmeric, nutmeg, salt and pepper until smooth. Very slowly, whisk in the almond milk, a little at a time, until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Add the vegetable broth and mix again.

Place the potato starch in a small bowl. Add about 1/3 cup (80 ml) of the liquid mixture and whisk until smooth; slowly add this to the liquid in the pot. Heat the mixture in the pot over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to bubble; cook for about a minute more, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and creamy. If the pasta isn’t yet ready, turn off the heat and cover the pot.

Once the pasta is ready, drain it and reserve about 1/2 cup (120 ml) pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauce pot along with the tempeh and peas and continue to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until everything is warmed through, about 10 minutes. If the sauce becomes too dry during this time, add the reserved pasta water (if the sauce remains smooth and doesn’t dry out, you can discard the pasta water). Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Thanks so much for the recipe, Ricki! I can’t wait til somebody cooks this for me!


  1. Comment by


    on #

    Sounds so good….putting the ingredients on my shopping list.

    (Jason, you really gonna eat that sandwich without jelly?)

  2. Comment by


    on #

    Thanks, Jason, I’m honored! I also wish I could cook this for you, too, because that would mean either (a) we actually had a guest at our house–whoo hoo! or (b) I would be in New York City–even bigger WHOO HOO! (Glad you liked it.) ;)

  3. Comment by

    Jason Das

    on #

    @debya I put on some strawberry jam.

    @Ricki Aw, shucks!

  4. Comment by

    Olivia Lane

    on #

    time to put the boyfriend to work in the kitchen.

  5. Comment by

    Olivia Lane

    on #

    Richard and I cooked this for dinner. The sauce was bland. Salt and pepper kind of disappeared into it. Braggs Amino Acids and Tabasco made it a bit more palatable. Oh well. There’s a first time and a last time to try a recipe. Sometimes both happen at the same time. It’s probably better with homemade tempeh bacon instead of Fakin’ Bacon.

  6. Comment by


    on #

    Fuck you you’re not Cracky-chan :(