Vegan pasta carbonara recipe with tofu and quinoa bacon

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 If you thought that a delicious bowl of pasta alla carbonara was now off limits, think again. We found the perfect plant-based recipe to recreate this Italian classic. 

Is there anything that screams Italian more than a succulent bowl of carbonara? Not really. Made with eggs, guanciale (similar to our bacon) and a lot of parmesan or pecorino cheese, the traditional pasta carbonara is probably one of the least vegan-friendly dishes out there. Thankfully for meat-free eaters, chef Dustin Harder from The Vegan Roadie has found an indulgent vegan alternative you will love that’s ready in 20 minutes. 

Dustin uses quinoa to create plant-based bacon and blends up some creamy tofu to make the sauce. Who says pasta carbonara can’t be enjoyed by everyone?


For the spaghetti:

  • 1 box (1lb/454g) spaghetti (reserve 1⁄2 cup [120ml] cooking water)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • Chopped parsley (optional)

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup (240g) silken or soft tofu
  • 1⁄4 cup (60ml) olive oil
  • 1⁄4 cup (60ml) reserved cooking water
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 11⁄4 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon Himalayan black salt (kala namak, optional)
  • 1 batch Quinoa Bacon Bits

For the quinoa bacon:

  • 1 cup (185 g) cooked quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper 


To make the spaghetti:

1. Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1⁄2 cup (120ml) cooking water and then drain; transfer to a large bowl.

To make the sauce: 

Step 1: Combine the tofu, olive oil, reserved cooking water, garlic, lemon juice, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and black salt (if using) in a high-speed blender. Blend for one minute, or until smooth and creamy.

Step 2: Add the bacon bits and sauce to the bowl with the pasta. Mix with tongs until well combined. If the pasta is too dry, add one tablespoon (14ml) of water as needed to get the sauce and bacon bits incorporated until all of the pasta is coated and creamy.

Step 3: Divide into six servings. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and parsley, if using.

Yield: six servings

To make the quinoa bacon:

Step 1: In a medium bowl, mix together the quinoa, soy sauce, olive oil, ketchup, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper until well combined.

Step 2: Heat a nonstick saucepan over medium heat until it’s hot. Add the quinoa mixture and spread in one layer. Cook 3 minutes, undisturbed (it will be hard to resist!). Using a spatula, scrape the quinoa off the bottom of the saucepan, mix it around, and spread it in another single layer. Cook an additional 3 minutes.

Step 3: Transfer the quinoa to a bowl, scraping the skillet to get any crispy stubborn bits off. Store cooled bacon bits in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 


A fun and traditional way to plate pasta is the “spool technique” and it’s pretty easy to master! You do need to have a very large fork, dare I say a “meat fork” for the most efficient results. Spool a portion from the pot onto the fork and then slide a large spoon underneath the portion, transfer to a plate, slowly remove the spoon from underneath the spool of pasta and then gently push the pasta off the fork with the large spoon while pulling the fork out. Garnish and serve for an impressive look with your little mountain of pasta spooled high! 

Recipe from Epic Vegan (£16.99, Fair Winds Press).

View more recipes from Stylist here.


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