Meat-free spaghetti carbonara
Lardons. There, I said it.
One of the most difficult-to-replicate meat products is bacon, specifically meat in a chunky, smoked format. Quorn does a mediocre job with their frozen bacon strips (they look like insoles and taste like them too), and most supermarket own-brand offerings are pretty similar. For fry-ups, we like Upton’s Bacon Seitan, but when included in cooking it tends to fall apart – it’s sliced very thinly and easily gets over-crispy. After a lot of experimentation, we found a bacon substitute that’s perfect for carbonara: Vivera Veggie Bacon Pieces. This recipe is simple, quick (it takes as long as pasta takes to boil) and tastes just as good as the carnivore option, I promise.
Enough spaghetti for 2 people (touch your index finger to the joint in your thumb. See the hole? That’s how much pasta)
2 large eggs
50g vegetarian parmesan/hard cheese (Sainsbury’s Basics is veggie), grated
100g Vivera bacon pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Big lump of butter
Boil some water and plonk your pasta in it. Add a pinch of salt, put the lid on and set a timer for 10 minutes. Pour yourself a glass of wine or grab a beer, and have a scroll through Twitter for a while. With 6 minutes left, heat your lump of butter in a big frying pan. While it’s melting, grate your parmesan cheese, and whisk up 2 eggs into the cheese.
Fry the bacon pieces in the melted butter, and add the crushed garlic after a minute or two. Keep this frying over a medium heat. When your pasta is cooked, turn off the heat on all your hob plates. Use tongs to pick the pasta out of the water and drop it into the frying pan with the bacon. Give it a bit of a stir around, then remove from the heat entirely.
Quickly tip the egg and cheese mixture into the pan with the pasta and bacon, and add a couple of tablespoons of pasta water into the pan too. Mix the whole lot around, being careful not to let the egg scramble. Add another spoon of water if it dries out or gets too sticky, and serve immediately.