A traditional carbonara recipe contains eggs, milk and bacon, and it was a challenge to recreate this, but I don’t give up easily. I started off with technicalities – smoking thin strips of aubergine to replace the bacon, whisking aquafaba to give the unctuous richness of an egg – and it was delicious, but the ingredient list was as long as my arm. So I shelved that version, and instead of focusing on trying to replicate a carbonara, I came up with this kinder, kinda one instead. The oil, nutritional yeast and liquidized onion do all the heavy lifting in making a thick, creamy, flavourful sauce, and the sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms give the meaty texture and deep, rich flavours. It’s not a carbonara, but it is deliciously satisfying. And that’ll do me just fine.


  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small white onion
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 500 ml vegan ‘milk’ – in order of preference: cashew, soya or rice
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 300 g spaghetti, tagliatelle or linguine
  • 4 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 200 g wild or shiitake mushrooms
  • Salt and black pepper


  1. First peel and finely slice the garlic cloves, and peel and slice the onion. Toss them into the blender, along with the flour, ‘milk’, nutritional yeast, oil, salt and pepper. Blend to a smooth liquid.
  2. Pour the liquid into a saucepan and bring to a very low heat to cook and thicken. Cook for 15 minutes on low to knock out the ascerbic raw taste of the onion and garlic, stirring intermittently to prevent it from sticking and burning.
  3. Meanwhile, pop the pasta in a large, wide pan of generously salted water and bring it to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes or according to the packet instructions – tagliatelle may take a little longer than linguine.
  4. While the pasta and sauce cook, drain and finely chop the sun-dried tomatoes and finely slice the mushrooms and add them to the sauce.
  5. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the pan. Pour over the sauce and stir briefly to combine. Season generously with pepper and serve.