dinner,  lactose free

Carbonara ersatz for lactose haters

Pasta carbonara is one of those Italian classics that are notoriously being prepared wrong. The list of sins is long: adding cream, using bacon and not guanciale, skipping the eggs in the sauce, I have even seen people who put vegetables in the dish. And here comes another one of this abominations to Italian cuisine.

In my defence, this time twisting of the recipe has a good reason: the version I present you here provides a carbonara substitute to those who cannot digest lactose or prefer not to eat diary. It would be more honest probably to call it “creamy pasta with bacon and pepper”, but using the term carbonara gives you an idea of the taste you can expect. It’s a similar case of calling processed pieces of wheat protein vegan chicken: not exactly the same, but carries some information about the expected taste and structure.

All of the previous recipes were vegan, and this one is an exception – the same way eating meat is exceptional in my diet. But you probably guessed from the name of this blog that I sometimes eat animal products. I started to reduce the amount of animal products in my diet after learning about the environmental impact of meat and diary consumption, and I strongly recommend researching this topic to everybody.

Right now I managed to bring down the number of non-vegan meals in my diet to one per week or two weeks. This transition period is highly valuable: I gave myself time to learn how to cook in a new way, to discover new products, and to let my partner adjust to the change, too. I also think that many people would have a problem sticking to a plant-based diet if they had to make the change overnight, and in such scenario, the failure could probably discourage them from veganism more strongly than it would with gradual change. For some people, the changes might start with something even smaller – like cooking a meal where there is only 60g bacon per person instead of eating a steak.

Carbonara ersatz (4 servings)

250g diced bacon (you can go with guanciale, but no need to pretend like we’re making it the right way)
250ml oat cream
4 egg yolks
500g pasta
freshly ground pepper

Boil water for pasta in a large pot, salt to your liking. Mix the oat cream with egg yolks in a bowl. Put the bacon on a cold pan (no oil) and start frying on medium heat until it becomes golden and crispy, in the meantime cooking pasta according to the instructions on the package or in the recipe if you are using homemade pasta. Drain the pasta and immediately put back to the pot. Pour the egg mixture over pasta and stir vigorously until you see that the sauce is thickening and sticking to the pasta – the heat from the pasta should be enough, but if it’s not, put the pot on very low heat and keep mixing. Be careful, you don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs! Add bacon and season with pepper to taste. Usually the bacon is salty enough, there is no need for adding additional salt to the sauce.

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