One of my best friend’s absolute favourite dishes is carbonara. She’s a pretty fussy eater and, whenever we go out for a meal, she usually ends up asking the chef to make her a carbonara, even if it’s not on the menu…
I made this vegan, healthier version with her in mind. Made using cashews (come on, there’s a reason I buy a 1kg bag at a time!), butternut squash and a salty, crispy shiitake mushroom bacon (I first read about that here on Blissful Basil – and it’s incredible), it’s everything you could possibly want in comfort food: the perfect blend of flavours and textures, and oh-so-satisfying.
Shiitake bacon is so amazing that I also love to toss it through my Mac and Cheese, and sprinkle over salads and roasted tomatoes for a healthier fry-up. Shiitakes, while a little pricier, have so much more meaty flavour than your everyday mushrooms, and they’re also high in protein, too – a great vegan staple.
Vegan Carbonara With Shiitake Bacon
- Serves 4
- For the shiitake bacon –
- 1 pack shiitake mushrooms, destemmed
- 1 tbsp oil of choice
- ¼-1/2 tsp pink salt
- Black pepper
- For the carbonara –
- 1 cup cashews, soaked for 6 hours and drained
- 1 1/4 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped
- 1.5 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- 1 tbsp coconut aminos
- 1.5 tsp smoked paprika
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Juice one lemon
- Pink salt and pepper
- 300g Rizopia brown rice fettucine
- 1 cup frozen peas
- For the almond “parmesan” –
- 1 cup almonds
- 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp pink salt
- Start by making your shiitake bacon. Preheat the oven to 180C, then line a baking tray. Toss the mushrooms in oil and salt, coating well, then sprinkle with black pepper. Bake for around 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, until crispy. Set aside.
- Now, make your almond parmesan by blitzing together the ingredients until they form a crumb. Tip into an airtight container, and set aside.
- In the meantime, steam or boil your squash until tender. Tip into a blender with all other sauce ingredients, then blitz until smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste – I think a good carbonara benefits from a LOT of pepper!
- Cook your pasta according to packet instructions, along with the peas. Once cooked, reserve one cup of the cooking water and tip into the blender with the carbonara sauce. Blend once more.
- Drain the pasta of the remaining water, rinsing off the starch. Turn back into a saucepan, along with the peas, and pour in the sauce. Heat through gently, then spoon into bowls and sprinkle over the “bacon” and almond parmesan. Add more black pepper, then enjoy!