I am obsessed with making the perfect vegan carbonara. This southern version may have brought that obsession to an end. The sauce does an amazing job of mimicking the egg and cheese sauce that is traditional in a carbonara. The shiitake “bacon” provides the salty and sweet component while the collard greens take the dish to the next level. Time for me to retire as the self-appointed vegan carbonara tester—this is the recipe.
- 8 oz (240 g) firm tofu
- 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) dill pickle juice
- 1⁄4 cup (15 g) nutritional yeast
- 1⁄2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1⁄2 tsp salt, plus more as necessary
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 lb (450 g) linguine, fettuccine or spaghetti
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
- 4 oz (120 g) shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) liquid aminos or soy sauce
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) liquid smoke
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) pure maple syrup
- 3 cups (108 g) finely chopped collard greens
- Black pepper, to taste
- Vegan Parmesan, as needed (optional)
- Squeeze the tofu with your hands, removing as much moisture as you can. Add the tofu to a blender. Add the broth, pickle juice, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, salt and red pepper flakes. Blend on high for 2 to 3 minutes, until the sauce is completely smooth. Set the sauce aside.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions.
- Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté, reducing the heat as needed to prevent burning, for about 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are starting to brown.
- Add the liquid aminos, liquid smoke and maple syrup. Toss to coat the mushrooms.
- Add the collard greens and toss to combine them with the mushrooms and seasonings. Sauté for about 10 minutes, or until the collard greens are tender. Season them with the salt and black pepper.
- When the pasta is done, drain it and reserve the pasta water. Add the pasta to the skillet. Toss to combine the pasta with the mushrooms and collard greens.
- Pour the sauce and 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) of the reserved pasta water over the pasta. Toss to coat all of the pasta in the sauce. Add a little more pasta water if needed. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
- Serve the carbonara topped with the Parmesan (if using).
Reprinted with permission from Southern Vegan by Lauren Hartmann, Page Street Publishing Co. 2020. Photo credit: Lauren Hartmann and Julie Grace.