This Vegan Carbonara is a super easy dish. Loaded with vegan bacon, vegan Parmesan, fresh basil, and smothered in a creamy sauce.
- 16 oz noodles (use gluten-free if GF) (we used bucatini)
- 3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds or cashews (see note 1)
- 1 1/2 cups reserved pasta water (see note 2)
- 4-5 tablespoons nutritional yeast (see note 3)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon black salt / kala namak (see note 4)
- 1 batch Portobello bacon or about 1 cup vegan bacon pieces (see note 5)
- Freshly grated vegan Parmesan (measure with your heart)(see note 6)
- Note: If you do not have a high powered blender, you may want to soak the seeds in just boiled water for about 5-10 minutes before blending.
- Makin’ Bacon?: If you’re making the Portobello bacon, I’d recommend getting that in the oven before starting your pasta.
- Cook the pasta and reserve some water: Boil a large pot of water (salt it if you wish) and cook your pasta according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta when it’s cooked but DO NOT FORGET TO RESERVE SOME OF THE PASTA WATER for the vegan carbonara sauce. It’s starchy so it will make the sauce super velvety and stick more easily to the pasta. I like to reserve about 2 cups just in case, but I only ever end up using about a cup and a half with this recipe.
- Make the sauce: Add the sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper to the blender. Pour about a cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Blend until smooth, and add more of the water a little at a time (blending each time), until the consistency is to your liking. I consistently add about a cup and a half of the cooking water to this recipe and it’s perfect every time.
- Mix: Add the sauce to your drained pasta and toss until well combined.
- Serve: Serve up the pasta with the vegan bacon and a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan cheese and enjoy!
- Store: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the fridge, but like most pasta this is best on the first night.
- Note 1: Cashews will work fine if you don’t have an allergy. I chose raw sunflower seeds because they are far cheaper than cashews, don’t have that lightly sweet flavor that cashews have, and are also better for folks who can’t have cashews due to an allergy. You can also just use canned coconut milk or your favorite unsweetened non-dairy milk with some cornstarch (you’ll need to heat it briefly to force it to thicken) instead (don’t use the pasta water). Silken tofu may also work, but don’t add the pasta water here either.
- Note 2: Pasta water, taken from the pot as it’s cooking (I like to do this just before I drain the pasta), is super starchy and makes for an excellent liquid to use in pasta sauces. I underestimated the power of it until I tried it--gamechanger for sure. If you forget to do this, substitute your favorite unsweetened non-dairy milk or filtered water.
- Note 3: While traditionally folks might not put cheese right in the sauce, we needed a little flavor to make the vegan carbonara sauce especially delicious. Nutritional yeast is perfect for this, but don’t worry, it’s not a super strong flavor in this dish. If omitted, reduce the amount of liquid added.
- Note 4: Black salt or kala namak is a sulphuric tasting kiln-fired rock salt typically used in Southeast Asia. It has a very pungent and sulphurous taste, making it perfect in egg dishes. I also use it in my plant-based omelette, tofu scramble, vegan quiche, and even in my matzo brei from my Plant Based Jewish Recipes e-Book.
- Note 5: I used my Portobello bacon here and it was super delicious. You could make that, make another vegan bacon that you like, or purchase vegan bacon from the store. Benevolent bacon and lightlife veggie bacon are both decent. Alternatively, you could roast chickpeas with some smoked paprika and salt and call it a day.
- Note 6: I grated some Violife vegan Parmesan cheese because I wanted beautiful fine shavings (food photographer problems, lol). You could instead use my homemade vegan Parmesan topping or just use nutritional yeast if you prefer.
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Entree
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: American, Italian
Keywords: Vegan, Nut-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Can Be Oil-Free, Can Be Gluten-Free, Can Be Soy-Free, Vegan Carbonara