Spring Vegetarian Carbonara

In Fast Dinner Ideas/ Healthy Dinner Recipes/ Recipes

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.

Spring Vegetarian Carbonara | A Couple Cooks

Spring Vegetarian Carbonara

Spring Vegetarian Carbonara | A Couple Cooks

Spring Vegetarian Carbonara | A Couple Cooks

Spring Vegetarian Carbonara | A Couple Cooks

Spring Vegetarian Carbonara | A Couple Cooks

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.

Peas always say spring to us, and while brainstorming recipes I recalled a friend mentioning a meal of spaghetti and peas, with whole egg yolks stirred in at the table to make a creamy sauce. The concept intrigued me, sounding a bit like spaghetti carbonara without the bacon. We decided to develop a vegetarian carbonara recipe, replacing the smokiness of the bacon with a smoked mozzarella for a background hint. Let’s be honest: this pasta does not have the endearing savoriness of bacon. But, 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.

Now, how many world savers do we have out there? Show of hands: how many of us have a deep burden to do something meaningful for the world? Alex and I joke that it’s the millennial’s burden, but I’d bet it’s more than just the young idealists who feel this pang. 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:

7 Earth-saving kitchen tips

  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.)
  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 this Composting 101 post by Alex.
  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.

Looking for more vegetarian pasta recipes?

This recipe is…

Vegetarian.

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Spring Vegetarian Carbonara


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  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

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.


Ingredients

  • 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 spinach Earthbound Farm Organic leaves
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

  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.)

Notes

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).

Keywords: vegetarian carbonara, vegetarian pasta recipe

We developed this recipe for Earthbound Farm Organic; all opinions expressed are our own. Thank you for supporting the partners that keep A Couple Cooks in action! 

**And to celebrate Earth Day, Earthbound Farms Organic is giving away 100 prizes, including a years worth of Earthbound Farms products; click here for more!

Spring Veggie Carbonara | A Couple Cooks

About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best vegetarian cookbooks” by Epicurious, and a recipe developer and healthy & sustainable food advocate behind the award-nominated food blog A Couple Cooks.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is photographer and recipe developer of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the “best new cookbooks” by Bon Appetit, and a recipe developer, photographer, and technical expert at A Couple Cooks.

11 Comments

  • Reply
    Tori//Gringalicious
    April 4, 2016 at 5:19 am

    This spaghetti looks amazing and I always appreciate when you share helpful tips!

  • Reply
    Fernando @ Eating With Your Hands
    April 4, 2016 at 6:48 am

    The bullet point on the paper towels might just be the most important one. When you think about how much paper goes into all the different uses, it sure equates to quite a lot of paper thrown away. Rags for life!

  • Reply
    Katrina
    April 4, 2016 at 7:34 am

    I love the idea of using egg yolk as a kind of sauce! And the smoked mozzarella sounds really good on this too!

  • Reply
    Katie @ Whole Nourishment
    April 4, 2016 at 9:05 am

    What a great idea to use smoked mozzarella and the egg yolk for a sauce. Love the earth-saving tips too. The buying and recycling patterns here in Switzerland are something I really appreciate – people are much more conscientious. When the society as a whole is this way and there are systems in place to support, it makes it easier for each individual person to follow suite.

  • Reply
    Sarah | Well and Full
    April 4, 2016 at 10:39 am

    I really like the earth-saving kitchen tips here. One thing I’ve noticed that helps me not overbuy at the grocery store is not shopping when I’m hungry!! When I’m hungry, I’m so much more likely to get more food than I need. ;)

  • Reply
    Libby
    April 4, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    We’ve started being very intentional about honoring Meatless Mondays. I live in the middle of Kansas and not eating meat is still very weird to a lot of people around here. So I’ve been using pasta on those days. Pasta is absolutely a gateway drug into meatless meals. I can’t wait to try this combination! I love spring veggies.

  • Reply
    Nina @ focusedonfit.com
    April 4, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    What a great blog! I love the homage to Earth Day – great ideas and tips! And more importantly, I am so grateful that you created a vegetarian carbonara recipe. Ever since going veg 5 years ago, I have desperately missed carbonara at my favorite restaurant. Now I can make it at home!!! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Kari
    April 4, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Love your earth saving tips!
    Kari
    http://www.sweetteasweetie.com

  • Reply
    Alexa [fooduzzi.com]
    April 4, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Oh this sounds amazing! I’m betting that yolk makes it so rich and addictive!

  • Reply
    Puja Darshan
    April 4, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    Great recipe along with helpful tips. Thanks for sharing….

  • Reply
    Hollie
    April 7, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    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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