Wicked Serious Carbonara


Carbonara, an Italian classic, is now a plant-forward masterpiece. We’re banging it out with cashews for creaminess, mushrooms for meatiness and pasta because, PASTA! — We’re wicked serious!  Our belief holds true: plants can do anything!

There’s nothing more delicious than a warm pasta dish that’s done right. We know it’s one of our favorite go to’s. If we can recreate the comforting memory of creamy pasta with cashews, why use dairy-based cream? If we can add that little hit of smokiness+crispiness with shrooms and paprika, why use bacon? This dish is an example of how you, (yes YOU!) can make plants the center of the plate, taste great and impress … it’s wicked healthy in one shot.


For the Alfredo-style Cream Sauce
  • 1 C raw cashews, soaked for a few hours and rinsed (If you’re short on time, boil the raw cashews with the cauliflower in the first step in the directions below.)
  • 400 g Cauliflower (roughly 1 head) cleaned and dismembered into large pieces
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)
  • 1 T white miso paste (optional)
  • 1 t salt
  • 32 oz. unsweetened soy milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
For the mushrooms
  • 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 3/4 t smoked paprika
  • 1 t black pepper
For the Carbonara
  • 1 lb fresh fettuccini (453 g = 1 lb.) – *see Helpful Tip below
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, medium diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 C flat leaf parsley, leaves picked, lightly packed
  • cracked black pepper
  • coarse salt
Additional recommended garnishes (optional)
  • 3 T toasted pine nuts
  • 1 t red pepper chili flakes
  • fresh basil, shredded
  • fresh truffle or truffle oil drizzle


To make the Alfredo-style sauce (can be made ahead of time and chilled)

  1. In large sauce pot add cashews (if you didn’t soak them), cauliflower, garlic, pinch of salt, bay leaf and 3 cups of water. Cover and bring to a slow boil on medium-high heat.
  2. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the cauliflower easily breaks apart. Strain and remove bay leaf.
  3. Transfer mixture to a high-speed blender (add cashews at this point if you pre-soaked them).
  4. Add pine nuts, miso and salt. Begin blending on low-speed while slowly adding the soy milk. Once incorporated, blend on high for couple minutes until the mixture is silky smooth.
  5. This will yield more than 2 quarts of alfredo-style sauce. Set aside 1 quart of the mixture for this recipe and save the remaining mixture in a closed container in the fridge for up to a week for other use.

To make the mushrooms

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Add sliced shiitakes to a small bowl and toss with 1 T of the oil, smoked paprika and pinch of black pepper.
  3. In large oven-safe skillet, heat 2 T oil on stovetop over medium high heat.
  4. Add shiitake mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes, then transfer pan directly to oven and finish roasting for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove and transfer the mushrooms to a paper towel to allow to drain and crisp up.

To complete the dish

  1. Cook fettuccini al dente according to the package instructions, set aside.*
  2. Heat large sauce pot on medium heat until hot, then add oil, onions and sliced garlic cloves and sauté for 3 minutes until they begin to brown.
  3. Add a splash of water (or white wine if handy) to loosen, then add in 1 quart of the alfredo-style sauce, peas and mushrooms.
  4. Heat for 1 minute then add pasta and stir to coat.
  5. Remove from heat and garnish with the parsley, black pepper and salt, to taste.


*Helpful Tip: while preparing this, we cooked the pasta ahead of time, and when it was time to add the pasta to the sauce we boiled a small pot of water and poured it over the cooled pasta to loosen and bring it up to temp before adding to the heating sauce.


This is a wicked easy recipe and the trick for this to work the best is to have all the ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start cooking. Mise en place, it’s something we’ve been practicing for years that helps us stay on our game and create some amazeball dishes. It’s actually not just for this dish, but for cooking in general. Having everything in front of us is like lining up all our matchbox cars before we begin to play.


We love the Alfredo-style sauce, that creamy, twangy awesomeness! Here, we’re using raw cashews and cauliflower to make a silky-smooth buttah, while the garlic and miso give it that slight umami and pungent quality of a creamy sauce that perfect for drenching over noodles. This recipe makes more than you need, so you can make additional dishes or even sub it in your favorite dairy-based dishes. And roasted shiitakes not only finish this dish perfectly, but also can be used in an array of other dishes, like scrambles, sandwiches, noodle dishes … you name it!

Some special things about this dish. We snagged some fresh Oregon black truffles from the farmers market that totally throws this over the edge. A slight drizzle of truffle oil would work too. I gotta tell ya this is amazing date food. So guys and gals looking to woo, ask for forgiveness or whatever the reason you just want to impress. Try this on for size and see the magic happen.

Did you make this recipe?

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