Holly's super easy yet decadent carbonara

We all have dishes we used to love as meat-eaters and still find ourselves thinking about. Though most meals are easily veganised, you are more likely to find a plant based burger to cater for non-meat eaters than you would, for example, a veganised carbonara.

Wouldn’t you love to step into an Italian restaurant and have ‘Vegan Carbonara’ as an option? But it’s just not a dish which is often listed on a menu. And when it does, it simply doesn’t quite fit the bill.

So, our staff writer Holly Farndell shares with us her super simple recipe that has become her go-to carbonara recipe. It ticks all the right boxes - it's comforting, super flavourful and very simple. It doesn’t require a food processor or soaking cashew nuts. You can pick up everything you need from Sainsbury’s Local just around the corner.

Vegan Carbonara:

Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes - (serves 2).


½ punnet of chestnut mushrooms

A couple of glugs of olive oil

3 cloves of garlic (Add more or less depending how much you love garlic)

Sliced vegan bacon (Holly’s personal favourite for this recipe is Vivera Plant Bacon Pieces, but there are tonnes of options to choose from)

1 carton of vegan single cream (Holly recommends Alpro Soya Cream - usually available in any free-from section, or Oatly Single Cream)

Juice of half a lemon

1 tsp Italian herb seasoning

A pinch of salt + black pepper

1 tsp Salt

1.5 tbsp Stubb’s Liquid Smoke (can be found in local health food stores, or use 1 tsp Smoked Paprika as an alternative)

3 tbsp Nutritional yeast

A sprinkling of vegan Parmesan (to taste)

4 nests of dried Tagliatelle


• Start by finely chopping or mincing the garlic cloves, and set to one side.

• Slice your mushrooms. Holly’s preference is to slice thinly as they get a bit crispier (and some people can be put off by big chunks of mushrooms).

• Heat your pan on a medium heat with a splash of olive oil. Once the pan is hot, add in your chopped garlic and mushrooms and toss them around to ensure all the mushrooms are coated in oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to season and continue to turn the mushrooms and garlic.

• After 2-3 minutes, add half a packet of your sliced vegan bacon to the pan. Add a dash more oil if things are starting to stick.

• At this point, you can start to prepare your pasta. Add some water to a separate saucepan on a high heat, and add a teaspoon of salt. 

• Add liquid smoke to the pan with the bacon and mushrooms.

• Continue to mix everything around to avoid anything sticking to the pan. Reduce the heat if things are sticking.

• Once the pasta water is boiling, add in your Tagliatelle nests and continue to stir every 2-3 minutes to ensure nothing sticks. Dried pasta should be done between 7-9 minutes, but continue checking to ensure it's cooked to your preferred texture.

• After 3-5 minutes (or when things are looking crispy), reduce the bacon and mushrooms to a very low heat. 

• Once the pan has cooled slightly, add half a carton of vegan single cream and mix everything together to allow the cream to combine with the smokey, garlicky goodness.

• Add our Italian Herb Seasoning and 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, and stir into the mix. Increase the heat to low-medium, so there is a gentle simmer.

• Whilst everything starts to thicken up, add the juice of half a lemon and the remaining 1 tbsp nutritional yeast and stir.

• At this point, your pasta should be just about done. Before draining your water, add a splash (around a quarter of a cup) to the creamy sauce. Pasta water is not only amazing for binding everything together, it also helps to thicken the sauce. Then continue to drain the rest! 

• Add the cooked pasta into the mix making sure it's thoroughly coated in the sauce, and continue to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add more cream to the mixture if it feels a little dry.

• Serve the pasta into 2 bowls and top with a sprinkling of vegan parmesan.

This recipe is perfect if you don’t have much time for cooking but still want something hearty to eat. Top the pasta off with some roasted balsamic tomatoes, some boiled fine green beans or tenderstem broccoli on the side. Or even a couple of slices of garlic bread to feel extra fancy! 

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