A little while ago I won a giveaway run by Vegan Obsession blog and the prize was a huge parcel full of gluten-free goodies including Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats, Oat Bran, porridge Oats and All purpose Flour, three types of Explore Asian Bean Pastas and some Veneziane pasta made using cornflour. I was literally over the moon to receive all these goodies (I never win anything!) as I’d only entered on a whim and I couldn’t wait to start trying it all. (Thankyou India!)
I have been wanting to make a vegan carbonara for ages now and receiving these pasta seemed like a great opportunity to give it a go. A traditional carbonara is pasta mixed with egg, cream and parmesan then topped with crispy bacon. That’s right, I’m veganizing a dish made from eggs…cream….cheese and BACON! haha. The vegetarian variety offered in restaurants is usually Mushroom Cabonara (but still with all the cream etc) so I decided to include mushrooms in my version but I also added some smoked tofu to replace the bacon, which is my new favourite tofu!!
Smoked tofu tastes a bit like a smoked bacon or even a little bit like American frankfurters but less strong. I could quite happily fry up a couple of slices and stick them in between some bread to create a vegan friendly bacon sarnie! You could leave out the tofu and just have mushrooms if you wanted to be really natural and soya free!
I was really impressed with this pasta, the one I used for my carbonara was the Mung Bean Fettucine as I felt it would add a nice bit of colour to the dish and also the flavour would compliment the mushrooms. The pasta itself is made only of mungbeans and water and it is high protein, low fat and low carbs. Now there is literally no reason why you can’t tuck into a big bowl of pasta!
I am probably going to be condemned to a lunatic asylum by carbonara lovers when they see what my sauce is made out of but I am pretty proud of being able to produce such a decadent dish using purely plant-based ingredients. For the sauce I drew inspiration from the Cauliflower cheese sauce I am currently obsessed with but I toned it down as I didn’t need it to be so strongly flavoured. I also added fried onion and leeks in with the mushrooms because I am terrible at not being able to just leave things alone, I always like adding more and more! You can keep this seriously simple by just having the tofu or the mushrooms, but do try my veggie packed version first!!
I have to just mention too before I share this delicious recipe with you that even Scott (my very tolerant recipe taster/ husband) really enjoyed this recipe and he really doesn’t care for 1. Cauliflower or 2. Creamy Sauces but the dish is so filling whilst at the same time being very fresh so you don’t feel like you have eaten anything too rich.
Smoked Tofu and Mushroom Carbonara
Vegan, Wheat and Gluten Free, Plant Based, Delicious!
1 Small Cauliflower (190g)
1 cup Almond Milk
1/2 Cup Water
3 tblspn Nutritional Yeast
1 tspn Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper
1 Punnet Chestnut or Closed Cup Mushrooms
1 tspn Dried Mixed Italian Herbs
200g Smoked Tofu sliced into small pieces
Explore Asian Mung Bean Fettucine (Enough to feed 4) I’ll leave that for you to decide!
Parsley to garnish
Cut the cauliflower into small florets and place in a saucepan with the milk and water and bring to the boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes until really soft. Add the nutritional yeast, garlic powder and a pinch or salt and pepper then blend until smooth and creamy (I did this by using a hand held blender in the pan but you can also carefully transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth). Place to one side to use later.
Put the pasta on to boil, this will take around 15 minutes on a high heat, it will be ready when it is soft but it will still be al dente. I think it would be very hard to really overcook this pasta!
While the pasta is cooking finely dice the onion, slice the leek and then fry in a little oil or water on a gentle heat (do not allow to brown) for approx 8-10 mins until softened then add the mushrooms sliced thinly, dried herbs, a pinch salt and pepper and the smoked tofu and cook for a further 10 minutes until the mushrooms have wilted.
Drain the pasta and then pour it into the pan with the mushrooms and tofu and pour in the white sauce. Stir everything together and allow it all to heat through in the pan. Serve in pasta bowls with a sprinkle of chopped parsley as garnish.