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vegan carbonara with zucchini cream sauce

My new favorite thing to blend into cream sauce is cooked zucchini! It’s so magical and undetectable in a sauce. I used it as the base for this vegan carbonara recipe. It’s great because now you’ve got your sub for tofu and cashews!

The newsletter subbies would already know about my obsession with the zuke as I sent out a creamy spinach dip recipe a couple of weeks ago made with it. It was delicious! You’re not signed up for the newsletter?! HELLO! From time to time I will send out exclusive recipes only to newsletter members so get on it and sign up here.

This dish all played out in a little game I call RECIPE?! so watch it unfold in the video below or keep scrolling for the written recipe.

 

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vegan carbonara with zucchini cream sauce

A classic Italian dish turned vegan with all the creamy goodness and no guilt!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 32 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2
Author Lauren Toyota

Ingredients

  • 225 g spaghetti
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small zucchini, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 C finely chopped or crumbled smokey vegan meat substitute (vegan ham, smoked tofu, our tofu bacon bits, or vegan sausage)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp pickle brine
  • 1/3 C unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 3/4 tsp kala namak / black salt
  • 1/2 C shredded vegan parmesan

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook spaghetti to al dente. Drain but do not rinse.
  2. Ensure all the green skin is peeled from the zucchini to ensure you have a white coloured sauce. Sauté zucchini and garlic cloves in a pan with 1 teaspoon of olive oil for about 8 to 10 minutes until soft and cooked through. 

  3. Add cooked zucchini to a high powered blender with 1 tablespoon olive oil, nutritional yeast, pickle brine, non-dairy milk, and ground pepper. Blend until very smooth and creamy.

  4. In the same pan brown up your vegan meat substitute over medium heat. Once crispy and golden brown reduce the heat to low, add the spaghetti and all the sauce and toss to combine well. Ensure it's heated through to your liking before adding kala namak as you don't want to heat this up much. Add kala namak and more ground pepper to taste if you like, just toss until combined and then turn off the heat.
  5. Serve immediately and add vegan parmesan on top and more ground pepper if desired.

28 comments

  • Teresa 2 years ago

    This looks awesome!

    I think you mean "drain but do not rinse" for the pasta.

    • Lauren Toyota 2 years ago

      just drain the pasta from the cooking water but don’t rinse under water. That removes the starches. Some people do not now this! The exception is rice pasta, sometimes the texture of rice pasta is better if you rinse it under cold water before tossing it in a sauce.

      • Rachael 2 years ago

        I think Teresa’s talking about how you wrote in the recipe above, "Rinse but do not drain." instead of "Drain but do not rinse" 🙂

        • Lauren Toyota 2 years ago

          OOPSY!

  • Shay 2 years ago

    Hmmm any idea how it would turn out without the black salt?

    • Lauren Toyota 2 years ago

      I’m sure it wold still be delicious. the sauce without it is great!

  • Luz 2 years ago

    How many tsp of lemon would you use to substitute for the pickle brine?

  • Sara 2 years ago

    Could lemon juice replace pickle brine??

    Thank you! 🙂

  • Michelle 2 years ago

    What vegan parmesan do you recommend?

  • Misty 2 years ago

    In my kitchen whipping it up Lauren. Very surprised how the sauce turned out. It’s good to know I am not the only one uses pickle brine.

  • Brody 2 years ago

    It’s like you knew I had two giant courgettes in the fridge needing to be used! Thanks Lauren <3

  • theresabolner 2 years ago

    Just made this with your tofu bacon bits!! So so so good, thanks so much for the recipe!

  • Averil 2 years ago

    I’m just taking a guess at this but you refer to a really long zucchini. I think that may be a New Guinea Bean. Super delicious! Definitely going to give this recipe a go! Thanks!

  • Lea 2 years ago

    Thank you for saving my evening!! This was so refreshing, that cream sauce is now going to be in my permanent rotation for sure.

    I don’t like meat substitutes a whole lot, so I thinly sliced white button mushrooms and roasted them with Italian spices and paprika which was such a good meaty colour and smoky substitute. Thanks for the inspiration!! Definitely going to subscribe

  • Kate Brewer 2 years ago

    This recipe reminded me how much I love pasta… seriously, so good! I didn’t have zucchini so instead I used yellow squash and it was marvelous! Topped it all off with some quick vegan parm (cashews, garlic powder, nooch, salt) and tempeh bacon. For sure going to make this again! Thanks Lauren 🙂

  • Melissa 2 years ago

    WOW this carbonara looks SO creamy and delicious. This one’s going on the must-make list.

  • Johnna 2 years ago

    just made this and it was excellent! such a unique flavor! used lemon juice instead of pickle juice (all we had was super spicy pickles) and used "tofu pups" vegan hot dogs as the meat sub, cooked with paprika and and a tiny bit of liquid smoke.

  • Alex 2 years ago

    Sounds great, I’m going to try that. I also love to take dried tomatoes in a carbonara instead of sausage.

  • Siobhan 2 years ago

    Has anyone made this without peeling the zucchini? Does it change the texture or just the colour??

    • Megan 2 years ago

      I’ve made it a few times without peeling the zucchini and it just gives it a very "healthy food" looking green colour. Still tastes amazing!

  • Linsi 2 years ago

    This is amazing! I also used lemon juice and also added peas. So tasty!!

  • Tyler 2 years ago

    This is so good! Used 3 tbsp lemon juice and your recipe for tofu bacon bits!

  • Kreuzkaro 2 years ago

    What a great recipe!!! I made it today for dinner, it is so delicious. Great summer recipe since zucchini are in season.
    I used 2 Tbs white wine vinegar instead of pickle brine. I added fried onions and eggplant and some fresh cherry tomatoes.

    Thank you Lauren 🙂
    Regards from Berlin
    Karoline

  • Hannah 2 years ago

    Such a smart use for zucchini! They certainly are plentiful this time of year, so I’m happy to have some new methods for tackling the surplus. This recipe is definitely a winner!

  • Amanda B 2 months ago

    SO good! I also didn’t have pickle juice, so I used lemon juice. I also used a little less kala namak. I used tempeh bacon. YUM!

    • Lauren Toyota 2 months ago

      cool! ya the pickle juice just has this EXTRA tang and flavor that’s different than lemon!

  • Heather Marshall 3 weeks ago

    I love this! I’m not vegan or even vegetarian but I’m trying to incorporate a lot more plant based meals in my diet. This recipe was a lot easier than I thought, using the blender to mix the ingredients is so quick and simple and I assume it is a lot easier than mixing eggs/cream in some extreme technical way like the original version. I used vegan bacon the first time I cooked it but I don’t think it was necessary at all if you’re just making a quick dinner. I prefer it without the “bacon” anyway. This sauce is really nice and I plan on making a lot more to freeze because it’s amazing. I didn’t add the black salt and it turned out fine. The sauce doesn’t taste “vegan” either, and it’s quite light and doesn’t make me feel gross like non vegan cream sauces do. It doesn’t taste like squash or veggies either. I have a small appetite normally, but every time I make this I eat one and a half servings! So maybe make extra if your making it for more than one person. Highly recommend to vegans and non vegans alike!

    • Lauren Toyota 2 weeks ago

      woo hoo! Thanks Heather 😀

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