One of the most vivid memories I have from my early days as a vegan, is a friend of mine asking me how I'd ever make pasta alla carbonara ever again. I remember mentioning tofu and mumbling something about chickpeas instead of the bacon in response, feeling slightly hurt - and puzzled.
Well - here's my glorious come back. Totally satisfying, with all the creamy/chewy qualities a good carbonara should have, completely cruelty free and totally delicious. A true ode to pasta.
100g Smoky Rashers, chopped into rough little bits;
4tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided;
100g Firm Silken Tofu;
1tsp Wholegrain Mustard;
2tsp Soy Sauce;
1/2tsp Ground Turmeric;
1Tbsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes;
50ml Almond Milk;
160g Dry Pasta;
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste.
A bowl for mixing;
A pot to boil your pasta in;
A non stick pan to make the magic happen.
WHAT TO DO
1. First of all, fill your pot with water and add 1Tbsp coarse sea salt per litre, cover and set over high heat.
2. Heat 2tsp of olive oil and 1tsp soy sauce in the pan over medium heat and, once it's heated up, add the chopped up rashers. Let them sizzle away, tossing the pan from time to time to ensure they go nice and crispy all over. Set them aside.
3. By this time, your water should be boiling. Add the pasta and set your timer for about two minutes less that what's stated on the package (you'll be cooking it in the pan a little too, this will avoid the risk of overcooking).
4. Mix the tahini, mustard, 1tsp soy sauce, turmeric, nutritional yeast and almond milk in the bowl, stir until combined. Add 50g of the Tofu and mash it in until the mixture is smooth (we used a potato masher). In the same pan you used before, add the remaining 2tsp olive oil, warm it up over medium heat and add the mixture. Let it warm up for a couple of minutes, then crumble the rest of the tofu in roughly with your fingers. Lower the heat and just keep it warm while you wait for the pasta to cook - cover the pan so that the liquid doesn't evaporate and your sauce doesn't burn!
5. When the timer goes off, drain the pasta in a sieve over the sink and add it to the pan, tossing it to coat the pasta with the 'egg(less)' sauce. If it's very dry, add some water or almond milk. Grind a little pepper over it, cover and let it cook in the mixture for a couple of minutes, or until the pasta reaches your desired al-dente-ness.
6. Add the crispy rasher bits to the pan, toss to mix it all in nicely and serve nice and hot, sprinkled with a little extra nutritional yeast if you feel you're missing out on the Parmigiano.
(Per serving, considering this recipe serves two. Keep in mind that these values will vary slightly if you use different ingredients.)
Energy: 545kcal/2280kJ / Fat: 14.5g, of which saturated: 2g / Carbohydrates: 69.3g, of which sugars: 4.6g / Dietary Fibre: 5.3g / Protein: 34.6g / Salt: 500-650mg