Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara

“A classic Roman dish traditionally made with pancetta or guanciale and egg yolks – we’re taking it to new vegan heights. This recipe uses two types of tofu, liquid smoke and black salt as a creative stand-in for pancetta and egg. If you haven’t come across any of these ingredients, they are about to change your culinary world and worth taking the time to source. You can purchase black salt (kala namak) at Indian grocery stores or gourmet grocery stores and liquid smoke at gourmet grocery stores.” ~ Nadia

Serves 2 | Prep time: 15 mins | Cooking time: 30 mins


Tofu Pancetta

  • 300g block extra firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke

Tofu Egg Sauce

  • 350g silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon black salt (kala namak)
  • 1/2 garlic clove, crushed
  • light dash turmeric powder
  • cracked black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons oil for shallow frying
  • 250g dried spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup vegan parmesan (optional)


Tofu pancetta marinade

  1. Cut the firm tofu block in half. Using a mandoline slicer or knife, carefully shave the tofu halves into very thin slices. This will be your pancetta.
  2. Pour the soy sauce, liquid smoke into a medium dish. Add a large dash of water. Toss and soak the tofu slices in the marinade. Leave to marinate.

Tofu egg

  1. In a food processor or blender, blend the silken tofu, nutritional yeast flakes, salt, garlic, turmeric and pepper until smooth.

Tofu pancetta

  1. Drain the tofu pieces from the marinade.
  2. In a medium frypan, heat the oil. Test a small piece of tofu in the oil first to see if it is hot enough. If the tofu sizzles straight away, it is ready. Fry the tofu pieces in batches until golden brown. The longer you fry, the crispier they will be. Drain the tofu pancetta on absorbent paper but reserve the cooking oil.
  3. Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain the pasta but reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  4. Transfer the spaghetti to the frypan used for the tofu pancetta. Stir the tofu egg and pasta water through the spaghetti. Fold through the pancetta, reserving some pancetta pieces for garnish.
  5. Serve with the vegan parmesan cheese and lashings of black pepper.

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Guest Blogger Nadia – The Vegan Italian Kitchen

Nadia is a cookbook author, recipe creator, presenter and vegan Italian expert. She has been creating vegan recipes since 2001 and loves to share her passion for recreating Italian classics through her blog The Vegan Italian Kitchen and her cookbooks Discovering Vegan Italian and A Vegan Summer in Southern Italy. See all recipes by Nadia

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