Tender spaghetti with smoky soy curl pancetta and a luscious eggy sauce makes this vegan carbonara the absolute best twist on an Italian classic! Ready in 35 minutes!
Guys, you really need to try this one! The flavour, the texture, everything about this dish is just spot on! And if you’re loving soy curls as a meat replacement, make sure to check out my vegan hamburger helper, too!
A classic carbonara dish is made using Italian bacon (aka pancetta), and a sauce made primarily of eggs and Parmesan cheese. Not very vegan, which is why this one was particularly fun to adapt!
If you’ve recently gone plant based and have been missing a good carbonara dish, you are going to LOVE this!
Why you’ll love it!
- Soy curls do an incredible job of mimicking pancetta in this vegan carbonara which a classic Italian carbonara sauce will have. Actually, soy curls work so well in a variety of dishes, like my vegan orange chicken or these vegan bacon bits, from which this pancetta recipe was inspired.
- Even though this dish is pure comfort food, it’s actually quite nutritious too, using protein dense ingredients like tofu, and soy curls.
- It’s creamy, filling, satisfying, great for serving a crowd and so incredibly flavourful.
- This vegan carbonara is also free from nuts and oil, keeping the fat content low and making it suitable for a WFPB (whole food plant based) diet. Even so, it’s still incredibly rich and luscious, that you’d never guess it’s low fat!
How to make it
(This is a summary with step by step photos, full recipe measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Gather all your ingredients. Then break your soy curls into smaller pieces and place in a mixing bowl.
Then pour the mixture over your curls and mix until the pieces are evenly coated. (photos 3-4)
Fill a pot with water (to cook your pasta) and put it to boil, while you prepare your vegan carbonara sauce and the pancetta. Once boiling, start cooking your spaghetti according to package directions for ‘al dente’ pasta.
Add all the carbonara sauce ingredients to a blender and process until smooth. Set aside. (photos 5-6)
Heat a non stick pan and once hot, add the ‘pancetta’. Dry sauté to brown the pieces, for about 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat. (photos 7-8)
By this point, your pasta should be cooked, so drain immediately and add to the pan with your ‘pancetta’ and pour the vegan carbonara sauce on top. (photos 9-10)
Mix well to evenly coat your spaghetti and serve immediately. (photos 11-12)
Garnish your vegan carbonara with more black pepper, (classic versions use a fair bit of black pepper) fresh parsley and some vegan Parmesan cheese.
How long does it keep?
Your vegan carbonara tastes best when freshly made. As it cools, the pasta will continue to absorb the sauce. However, you may store leftovers in a sealed container in your fridge for 3-4 days.
I do not recommend freezing as it will affect the overall texture.
How to reheat leftovers
To reheat your vegan carbonara, you’ll need to add some liquid back into the dish, since it will absorb the sauce, as it cools.
Add some broth, plant milk, or a combination of both to your pan and reheat on stove top.
Can I make any substitutions?
If you need it gluten free, just sub the pasta for your favourite gluten free variety.
The black salt aka Kala Namak is a vital ingredient in this dish. It’s what gives the sauce it’s eggy flavour, and I do not recommend skipping it. If you don’t have, or cannot find it, you may sub for sea salt, but with slightly different results.
Use any plant based milk you like. We like soy, but any non dairy milk will do.
For the pasta, spaghetti is a classic choice, but you may sub for another variety, if preferred.
Can I make this dish soy free?
If you can’t have soy, you may use sliced mushrooms or cooked or canned chickpeas to replace the soy curls. Marinate either one in the pancetta marinade for a couple of minutes and dry fry as directed.
For the vegan carbonara sauce, you may sub the soft tofu for one third of a cup of raw cashews. Keep in mind this will increase the calories and fat.
- Salt your pasta water! Be sure to add enough salt to your pot of water for best results. Here’s a handy guide to help if needed.
- Do not overcook your pasta. Follow the directions for ‘al dente’ pasta. If your package does not include directions for ‘al dente’ then undercook your pasta by 1-3 minutes. ‘Al dente’ means that the pasta is still firm once cooked, and not mushy! This gives you optimal texture in every bite.
- Make sure to reserve some pasta water for ‘swooshing’ in your blender when draining your noodles. If you forget, you may use some broth, or fresh water, and add a little salt, so not to dilute your carbonara sauce too much, but the starchy water works best.
- Serve your vegan carbonara immediately, as the pasta will absorb the sauce as it cools.
More vegan pasta dishes
- Vegan Pasta e Fagioli
- Vegan Baked Pasta
- Easy Mushroom Zucchini Pasta
- Healthy Cauliflower Bolognese
- Vegan Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
- Pasta Aglio e Olio
- Vegan Penne Alla Vodka
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For the Vegan Pancetta
For the Vegan Egg Sauce
For the Pasta
- 1 lb (16 oz) spaghetti or spaghettini gluten free if preferred
- vegan Parmesan cheese recommended
- black pepper recommended
- chili flakes
- Add the soy curls to a mixing bowl and break them using up your hands. You want them to resemble small pieces of pancetta, but they don't have to be perfect.
- In a small bowl, combine the pancetta seasoning: tamari, maple syrup, smoked paprika, black pepper. Mix well, pour it over the soy curls and mix until evenly coated, and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil to cook your pasta. While waiting for your water to boil, heat a deep, nonstick pan, until hot. Add the soy curls once hot and dry sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until browned, without burning. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- By now your water should be boiling, so begin cooking your spaghetti according to package directions for al dente pasta. While it's cooking, add all the sauce ingredients to your blender and process until smooth. Set aside.
- Drain the pasta, but RESERVE half a cup of the cooking water. Add the drained spaghetti to your pan with the pancetta, then pour your carbonara sauce on top. Add the reserved pasta water to your empty blender and give it a swirl to collect any extra sauce and seasoning on the sides and pour that over your pasta.
- Mix well and serve with extra black pepper, fresh parsley and vegan parmesan cheese.