When I was still eating meat, I didn’t like bacon at all, but now I just love vegan tempeh carbonara with spaghetti. I already made this hearty Italian pasta dish with smoked tofu instead of tempeh a couple of times. I’m not 100 percent sure what was better (Flo always tells me how bad I am at making up my mind ;-) ), but if I really had to choose I would probably go for tempeh. For those of you who have never heard of tempeh, it’s originally from Indonesia and is made of soybeans. Unlike tofu, the soybeans, are however, not processed, which gives it a higher content of vitamins and protein. I especially like its firm texture and the fact that it freezes really well. I usually stock up with tempeh every time I go to our local health food store or Asian grocery store and put it in the freezer, so it’s available whenever I need it. Tempeh bacon is also great on salads!
Vegan carbonara sauce was actually one of the first dishes I tried when I decided to stick to a vegan diet. At this time, I still used soy cuisine for the sauce. Now, I usually rely on cashews and plant-based milk to make creamy sauces. Nutritional yeast and miso paste gives the vegan carbonara sauce its typical cheesy flavor. If you like you can also add peas, broccoli, or mushrooms to your sauce. The vegan tempeh carbonara sauce goes well with a green side salad.
Vegan Tempeh Carbonara
For the Tempeh Bacon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 7 oz tempeh
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon BBQ-sauce
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked salt
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- black pepper
For the Carbonara Sauce
- 9 oz whole wheat spaghetti
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 1 cup unsweetened plantmilk almond, soy, or oat milk
- 1/2 teaspoon white miso paste
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the package.
- Cut the tempeh into little cubes. In a medium pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Stir-fry the tempeh for about two minutes. Then add the chopped onions. Cook for another two minutes. Add the BBQ and soy sauce as well as the spices and cook for about 5 minutes until the tempeh is brown and crispy.
- Place the cashews, the plant-based milk, the miso paste, the nutritional yeast, the garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor and process until smooth.
- Pour into a large pan and cook for about 2-3 minutes. If the sauce gets to thick add a splash of milk. Stir in the spaghetti, the tempeh bacon, and the parsley and season with salt and black pepper.
Loved it! The sauce was great, I’ll have to save that recipe for using in other dishes. I added some kale and topped it with chopped tomatoes to add a bit of veggies.
Can’t wait to try this recipe!
Do the cashews need to be soaked prior to blending?
I usually don’t soak my cashews, but if you want to make it easier for your blender, you can soak them overnight or in hot water for 30 minutes. :-)
This sauce is absolutely AMAZING. The first vegan sauce I’ve made that tastes like the real thing (I’m 30 days vegan and loving it). I did not have miso so I omitted it. The sauce seemed a bit thin so I added about a half a cup of cannellini beans and blended that in. I am so excited about this sauce, as it is SUPER simple and so so good – I just finished a bowl of this and am already planning to make more and use on a vegan pizza! Thank you thank you thank you!!!
We had this for dinner tonight and really enjoyed it! Thanks so much for sharing it!
This looks amazing Sina! Carbonaras have always been my favourite kind of pasta dish, and the use of cashews to this add the perfect amount of creaminess!! This looks amazing – I could literally eat bowlfuls of it. Especially with that tempeh bacon – the flavours in it sound incredible! :)
Thanks, Harriet! :-) Glad you like it! When I was still eating meat, I didn’t like Carbonara at all, but now I simply can’t get enough of it!
Meg @ Noming thru Life
This is great Sina!! I was never a bacon lover either. People always thought I was crazy. But I do enjoy the smokey and salty flavor of it in vegan forms. Funny how that worked out. Have you tried making mushroom bacon yet? That’s next on my to-do list. P.S. Your pasta looks fabulous!
Thanks, Meg! :-) Yeah, it actually is crazy! I absolutely hated bacon because of its texture, but in vegan forms I do enjoy the smoky flavor as well. No, I haven’t tried mushroom bacon yet, but it sounds really interesting. Do you have a special recipe? Have you dried coconut bacon yet? I’ve seen that on so many food blogs…
Meg @ Noming thru Life
I haven’t either :( I too have seen it everywhere, so I was going to pick your brain on a recipe if you had, lol. Great minds think alike ;) If I make the jump and make it sometime and it works out, I’ll get back to you.
Mushroom Bacon: use Sina’s recipe for the tempeh bacon, but thin out the bbq sauce with liquid smoke and water. Marinate your choice of mushrooms (trumpet are big and beautiful, but any will do). If you have a dehydrator, use that and lay them out on the sheet to dehydrate on 140 for at least 10-12 hours. If you’re using an oven, set temp at 200F. Spread mushrooms on baking sheet and bake low and slow, until they begin to shrink and crisp up. You can also finish them with a quick broil for a nice crisp!!
This sounds so delicious, Lauren! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe! :-) I really need to try this!! It has been on my list for liker ever. ;-) Do you know how long the mushrooms take in the oven?
Sina, The mushrooms at 200 F may take 15-20 minutes and I watch them closely. I may turn them over halfway through cook time.
Also, I was so inspired by your Carbonara recipe, I made it for my husband with a few of my own edits and additions. He loved it so much that I had to include it on my site. I also gave you credit for the inspiration!! You’ve got some beautiful dishes on your site.
Thanks, Lauren! Can’t wait to try this! :-) It’s so great to hear that you and your husband liked it! I love that you added green onions and olives. This is such a great idea! :-)