Super Easy Sausage Carbonara. Perfecto!
This summer I was lucky enough to travel back to Italy, home of literally the best food anywhere. Admittedly when I travel, I don't exclusively eat vegan (and now I wait for the vegan thunder gods to strike me down... no? Ok, cool). In my last night in Rome I decided that I HAD to get some carbonara. So I went down my rabbit hole to find the best carbonara I could within reasonable walking distance of my hotel. Turns out there's like a billion of them. Also turns out that what I was asking for was kind of odd to Italians.
There are a few back stories to the lure of where carbonara originated but one thing is very clear: it's not a fancy dish. In fact, it's like the equivalent of mac and cheese to Americans. The story, in either version, basically sums up to: All we had around was some pork cheek, some eggs, cheese, butter, and pasta. So we cooked it together and made this delicious, fattening, amazing, creation that most Italians make in their home and don't go out to fancy restaurants for.
The restaurant we ended up going to specialized in eggs, and very cleverly named themselves Eggs. They literally don't have a website other than their facebook so looking at a menu is hard, but if your ever in Rome I totally recommend them. The one closest to the camera [me!] got 'purple' which was carmalized onion, and across from me got shaved truffles. Craig loves truffles, but I think I won that meal.
First, let me share something I learned: Eggs still freak me out. The whole consistency of a yolk has become rough for me since eating vegan 99% of the time (sans traveling and recently some occasional fish). Eggs literally never make my 'things I wish I still ate' list other than as a binder for some recipes.
Second, let me share something I do really respect: People who deeply appreciate and care for their food. Especially for those who still consume animal products. I live in an area where hunting and farming is all around me and I would absolutely put sustainable hunting over factory farming in almost every aspect. Health wise? You're not going to sell me. Yet there is so much to be said about being connected to what you eat and always giving immense appreciation for what you are consuming and all of the energy and consciousness that went into it. Which is why I LOVED the 'how to behave in front of an egg' section of the menu above. Eggs, the restaurant, clearly loved eggs and the whole process of raising happy chickens and how that energy is needed to make the best eggs to make the best product.
Fast forward a few weeks. I have been going to the gym, feeling good, getting *gasp* tan and then I go to the Outer Banks for a week and eat like I have three stomachs, and drink like I have five livers, and come back thinking, "ok, so tomorrow we need to get back into that better set of routines." So for my last vacation meal I decided I wanted to pretend I was back in Italy! Enter, vegan carbonara. A shockingly simple, quick, and delicious meal I will be making way more often.
First I want to address the heavy lifters in this recipe that might not be available in your hometown grocery store. My goal was to make a sauce in my bender that I could toss right in with the sausage/bacon or whatever fake meat you want, that was creamy and eggy. One point for vegans for not having to worry about tempering yolks.
To do this, I grated about 1/3 of that Violife block into my blender, added about 1/4 cup raw cashews, 3 Tbs nutritional yeast, about an egg an half worth of this Just Egg and about 3/4 a cup of water. Just Egg is something I have been looking forward to trying for quite a while now, just found it, and I'm immediately drowning it in other flavors. Sorry Just Egg. I'll give you a full review just to yourself later.
Once the sauce ingredients were unceremoniously dumped into my vitamix, I started crumbling and baking the sausage I had with about a Tbs of olive oil.
Next I blended everything in my mixer until I had a nice creamy sauce. In my personal experience it it almost always better to go thin on a sauce than thick. If it's getting dumped into a hot pan, it will thicken I promise. When I have tried to go the other way, my too thick sauce turns into clumpy shit that never thins back out to something pretty.
While this is going on I'm also boiling the pasta. I decided to treat myself and get fresh pasta and holy f was it worth it. I honestly don't remember the last time I had fresh pasta but now I want it often and I want a pasta maker.
I immediately tossed the pasta in with the delicious greasy sausage and stirred till the pasta was coated. Then I poured in the sauce from the blender and waited about 2 min for it to thicken up
Next, I dumped it in a bowl and proceeded to eat about 3/4 of it in one sitting. I waited to take some pics with it and decorated it with more cheese and some basil which is like the only living thing still in my garden.
I wish I had more pictures of the final product, but I can offer me eating the final product.
Now, compact version of the recipe for those who didn't want to look at my pics while they read.
Ingredients for sauce:
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup grated vegan parmigiana cheese
3 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 1/2 (or about 1/4 cup) Just Egg or egg replacer of your choice
1/2 - 3/4 cups water
3/4 of a pound of fresh pasta, or a whole pound if you're feeding two
Veggie sausage or bacon of your choice; I love Beyond brand Hot Italian Sausage
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1. Put all sauce ingredients into a blender and blend until very smooth
2. Brown veggie sausage in olive oil over medium heat
3. Cook pasta according to package directions
4. Toss in pasta with veggie sausage and toss until coated with oil
5. Add sauce from step one into pan and stir consistently until sauce is thickened to desired consistency
6. Stuff your face
Instead of nutritional information I'm going to leave you with some positive thoughts. Not that counting calories doesn't work, but this recipe and our lives aren't about numbers. It's about taste and memories, and wonderful things that go beyond however much we weigh while eating them.