Pasta Carbonara with Shiitake Bacon


I love a creamy, fatty, decadent pasta dish. I have created this dish using lots of cashews and it is DEE-lish and wonderful, but sometimes I feel the need to lighten it up a bit. So in this recipe I greatly reduce the cashews and add cauliflower. When blended together it creates a wonderfully creamy, yet much lighter sauce. In fact, you can completely omit the cashews and it would still be delicious. But I like a little fat…



Shitake Bacon Marinade:

1/4 cup soy sauce, tamari or Bragg’s aminos

1/8 cup maple syrup

1 tsp onion granules/powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp garlic granules

1/2 tsp liquid smoke

Optional: a few drops toasted sesame oil or a tsp toasted and ground sesame seeds (this adds such a nice flavor – I use the drops)

12 oz shitake or portobello mushrooms (or a combo), sliced

Carbonara Sauce:

1 small head cauliflower, broken into florets

1/3 cup raw cashews

3/4 cup unsweetened plant milk

3/4 cup vegetable broth

2 T nutritional yeast

1 tsp kala namak

1/2 tsp white pepper (can use black)

1/2 tsp salt

Pinch of nutmeg (I like to use freshly grated)

Squeeze of lemon and some lemon zest

Saute in pan:

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves minced

*Optional: 1/2 cup dry white wine  (only use wine in the version with fresh onion and garlic)

OR add dry onion and garlic to the sauce instead:

1 T onion granules

1/2 T garlic granules


1 lb pasta (Jovial or Tinkyada brown rice pastas are my favorites. I also love the Sfloglini whole grain reginetti for this dish)


1 cup fresh or frozen peas

Chopped Italian parsley for garnish



Make your bacon first

Preheat oven to 350

Slice your mushrooms thin and add to the marinade. Marinate for at least 20 minutes (or more) or overnight.

Spread the mushrooms out on a silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cook 10 minutes, then flip with a metal spatula. Cook 10 minutes more. Flip again and continue to cook and check every 5 minutes until they start to get dry and crispy. The will continue to crisp up when you take the pan out of the oven to cool.

Bring a pasta or large pot of water to boil. Add your cauliflower florets and cashews and cook 10 minutes or until the florets are soft (but not falling apart). Using a slotted spoon, remove from the water into a blender or food processor.

If using fresh onion and garlic, heat a wide pan on medium high heat, add onion and garlic and sauté with a pinch of salt until onion has softened, splashing in vegetable broth, water or wine if the vegetables begin to stick. If using wine, once your onions are soft, add your wine, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add onion and garlic mixture and the rest of the sauce ingredients to the cauliflower and cashews and blend until smooth. Pour into your pan and keep on a low heat while you cook your pasta.

Cook pasta according to package but set the time for 2 minutes (for frozen) or 5 minutes (for fresh) before it is done. Add your peas. When the pasta is done but al dente, drain and add to pan with sauce. Stir to coat and if too thick add a half cup of the pasta water. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and shitake bacon.






Photograph of Lisa Rice in the kitchen

Lisa Rice

Sr. Health Mentor & Director of Content and Promotion
Photograph of Lisa Rice in the kitchen

Lisa Rice

Sr. Health Mentor & Director of Content and Promotion