Vegan carbonara! I cannot say enough incredible things about this pasta. Cannot say enough how creamy, how silky, how delicious this one is.
It’s carbonara without any cream, any dairy, any cashews, any beans- none of the usual suspects. The sauce is made from pureed, fresh corn kernels and tossed with spaghetti, homemade tempeh bacon, basil and fresh tomatoes.
If you love carbonara pasta, then you are going to love this one.
See the silky sauce? BL couldn’t believe this one was dairy-free; it coats the pasta so well, I could just drink it. I thought about stopping there, but what kind of carbonara doesn’t have bacon? So, I added in my vegan bacon crumbles.
These are one of my favorite ways to enjoy tempeh. I make a batch all the time to add to pasta, eggs, tofu scrambles, wraps– pretty much anywhere you’d normally put bacon.
Add a little soy sauce, maple syrup, balsamic, cayenne and red pepper flakes and in minutes, the tempeh transforms into crispy bacon bits.
Since it’s summer, I couldn’t imagine this pasta without lots of basil and tomatoes, which add the perfect balance of freshness and texture. Promise me you’ll try this one out, I know the idea of corn in pasta sounds weird but it works and it’s amazing. Make it soon!
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. This is how you add flavor to pasta while it cooks- the water should be salty! Add the pasta and cook to al dente according to package directions. Just before draining, add 1 cup of the corn and let cook for 1 minute.
Drain the pasta and corn, reserving ½ cup of pasta water and set aside.
While the noodles are cooking, make the bacon. Crumble the tempeh using a box grater or very finely chop. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the tempeh along with 1 tablespoon olive oil, cooking until tempeh is golden brown and slightly crispy, about 5 minutes.
Whisk together the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, cumin and red pepper flakes. Pour mixture over the tempeh, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the liquid is absorbed and tempeh is glazed and crispy, about 10-15 minutes.
While the bacon is cooking, make the sauce. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5-7 minutes until softened, but not browned. Add the garlic and remaining 3 cups corn, remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup, salt and cayenne and cook for 3-5 minutes, until heated through. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
Add the corn sauce to the cooked pasta and toss to coat. If too thick, add in reserved pasta water 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Add in the bacon, lemon juice, basil and halved tomatoes and toss again. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Plate and garnish with extra basil and more fresh black pepper, if desired.
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Meet Alex Caspero
Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.