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This vegetarian carbonara is quick and delicious; an egg yolk is stirred into the pasta to create a sauce, and smoked mozarella is used instead of bacon.

Vegetarian Carbonara
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This post was created in partnership with Earthbound Farm Organic; all opinions are our own.

Spring has officially sprung (hallelujah!), and we’ve got the fever. Tulips are popping up in our front yard, and we’re feeling all spring pea and baby spinach and Earth day-like. Do you feel it? (Perhaps not if you’re in the Southern hemisphere, or Minnesota, or reading this any month other than April.) In honor of the warmer weather and general feeling of valuing Mother Earth this month, we’ve got this vegetarian carbonara and seven earth-saving kitchen tips to start out April.

Related:14 Egg Recipes for Dinner

Vegetarian Carbonara
Stirring egg yolk

How to make vegetarian carbonara

Now, what is carbonara exactly? Pasta carbonara is an Italian invention (Roman to be exact): it’s an incredibly savory pasta recipe made using long pasta noodles, egg, Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, and either bacon or guanicale. The raw egg is mixed into the warm pasta and used to make a creamy, delicious yellow sauce. Since Alex and I eat most vegetarian, we wanted to create a vegetarian carbonara recipe! This version is a spring take with some springtime vegetables added in.

To mimic the smoky taste of bacon, this vegetarian carbonara recipe uses smoked mozzarella instead! It’s also mixed with spring vegetables: green peas and a bit of sauteed spinach, to add some extra nutrients and texture. The combination of the cheeses plus the creamy, complex flavor of the egg yolk stirred in as an instant sauce makes the pasta taste both springy and light and supremely satisfying.

Vegetarian Carbonara

7 Earth-saving kitchen tips

Along with this vegetarian carbonara recipe, we wanted to offer up some Earth-saving tips for the ktichen to go along with Earth Day. Our planet is one amazing place to live, and in order to make sure it’s taken care of for our children and children’s children, we’ve got to care for it properly. Let’s love our Earth well! Though doing so is an exceedingly complex task and much more than one of us can do alone, taking small, concrete steps can actually gradually start to make positive impact on the Earth. Here are a few tips related to cooking and using your kitchen that can help in starting to save the planet:

  1. Buy organic. Fruits and veggies labeled as organic are grown without using pesticides or fertilizers with synthetic ingredients and without irradiation, the seeds and transplants are chemical-free, and the fertilizer is natural. Organic practices foster cycling of resources, ecological balance, and biodiversity. Basically, this equals a happy planet. (And happy bodies too.) In this vegetarian carbonara, we used organic spinach and peas.
  2. Don’t overbuy. Americans waste 30 to 40% of the food we buy. Planning meals carefully and only buying what you need reduces waste (and saves money!).
  3. Compost. Composting lets your kitchen scraps to be transformed into nutritious soil rather than rotting in landfills and releasing excess methane (gross). Turning your trash into food for your flowers and herbs is pretty darn fun; in fact, Alex is obsessed. If you’re interested in getting started, see Composting 101.
  4. Carry reusable kitchen bags. Reusable kitchen bags cut down on disposable waste. As popular as they have become, plastic and paper are still fairly prevalent at the groceries we frequent. I keep two of these bags in my purse at all times!
  5. Use rags instead of paper towels. Our friend Ashley did some research and inspired us to use cloth rags multiple times instead of paper towels, which is environmentally friendly in the long run. We just bought a bunch of these cleaning rags and are enjoying them.
  6. Recycle. Duh. But actually, since it’s not always an intuitive process in every city, you may not have taken the steps to integrate it into your daily life. Here’s a friendly reminder! Also, remember to rinse or wipe out your containers of food waste prior to recycling; it typically helps with processing once the items arrive at the plant.
  7. Eat vegetables. It’s become widely accepted that eating more vegetables has less toll on the environment since it uses less resources overall than eating meat. This is actually the reason we started eating mostly vegetarian meals in the first place, and the reason we started this blog! (We read this fantastic, non-judgmental book.) So, make this vegetarian carbonara and let the Earth-saving begin.
Eating pasta

More vegetarian pasta recipes

Outside of this vegetarian carbonara recipe, here are some of our favorite vegetarian pasta recipes:

Spring Vegetarian Carbonara | A Couple Cooks

This recipe is…

This vegetarian carbonara recipe is vegetarian.

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Vegetarian Carbonara

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  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


This vegetarian carbonara is quick and delicious; an egg yolk is stirred into the pasta to create a sauce, and smoked mozarella is used instead of bacon.


  • 1 pound spaghetti noodles
  • ½ cup smoked mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup frozen Earthbound Farm Organic peas
  • 8 cups Earthbound Farm Organic spinach
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper


  1. In a large pot, combine 6 quarts of water with 2 tablespoons kosher salt and bring it to a boil.
  2. Grate the Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Carefully separate four egg yolks and set aside.
  3. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until the pasta is just about al dente, about 7 minutes; then add peas and spinach and cook for 1 minute. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, and then drain the pasta and vegetables.
  4. In a skillet, melt the butter, then stir in the cheeses, ¼ cup pasta water, and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Stir in the pasta and vegetables until creamy over low heat, adding more pasta water if necessary (note that the mozzarella will stick together in some places).
  5. To serve, top each pasta serving with a whole egg yolk and additional Parmesan cheese, and stir the yolk into the pasta at the table (if you are uncomfortable serving egg yolks at the table, stir the egg yolks into the pasta in the skillet to heat them through). Serve immediately. (Note that the mozzarella cheese can become gummy the longer the pasta sits, so eat immediately if possible. Leftovers can be reheated in a skillet, but may not have the same creamy texture.)


Consuming undercooked eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness. If you are uncomfortable serving egg yolks at the table, you can stir the egg yolks into the pasta in the skillet to heat them through.

The smoked mozzarella in this recipe is reminiscent of the bacon traditionally used in carbonara; if you can’t find it, use traditional mozzarella or substitute Parmesan (using 1 cup Parmesan total).

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Alyson says:

    I didn’t have smoked mozzarella, so I mixed in smoked paprika with my cheeses! Also, used fresh zucchini instead of peas and spinach. Delicious!!

  2. Hollie says:

    This was delicious, as usual. Super super super rich compared to your usual recipes, but I didn’t mind working a little harder at the gym. I couldn’t find smoked cheese at my local grocery store, so I just used reg mozzarella and missed out on the smokiness :(

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