Since changing my diet and cutting out wheat, gluten, grains, and any heavily processed carbohydrates, I've been surprised at how little I have missed certain things I thought I would struggle horrendously without. I always loved pizza. I always, always loved carbonara. Needless to say, I've always been fond of cheese. And I even went through a phase where I'd get home from school and make a huge bowl of pasta with cheese and baked beans, as a snack. A pre-dinner before my dinner. So to say goodbye to my favourite Italian dishes seemed a crying shame, but I soon became more excited by making spaghetti out of vegetables, and pestos and sauces out of natural ingredients.
This recipe is a cut above all other veggie pasta dishes, and tastes so much more like the real thing, and in my opinion, so much better than it, too. It all began when I was in the kitchen making an insanely good soup, surrounded by brilliant ingredients all not really knowing what they were there for, what they were doing or where they were gonna end up. If ever a vegetable or a legume could look unsure of itself, it was at this moment, in my kitchen. The ingredients were not familiar with one other, and no one was feeling confident about how their time spent together was going to end up, but something happened in that blender that should have happened a long, long time ago.
I've made carbonara sauce before, but I wanted to make a new version without using coconut or nuts - as I find coconut milk can be quite rich sometimes, and I've also been trying to reduce the amount of nuts I eat recently, because I went a bit overboard for a while. The beans in this recipe make it a good source of protein, and the lack of thick, processed cream or real cheese make it lower in bad fats and completely free from dairy, unlike most shop bought sauces and conventional recipes. The beans, combined with the oil and water, create a wholesome, flavoursome creaminess, even tastier than what would be achieved with real cream, and the nutritional yeast creates a mild cheesy flavour - essential in any pasta dish. This recipe is entirely gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, grain free, nut free, vegan and vegetarian. You can enjoy it plain (pictured above), with fresh herbs, or with your own choice of vegetables, meat, fish or seafood.
+ You can also omit the pasta entirely, and enjoy the sauce on its own as a simple White Bean Soup, served hot or cold as a gazpacho.
320g White Beans / Cannelloni Beans
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1 Cup Water (can also use almond or coconut milk for an even creamier sauce)
4-5 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
1/4-1/2 Teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt
Pepper, to taste
Small Handful Fresh Basil Leaves
180-200g Gluten Free/Buckwheat/Spelt (not gluten free)/Black Bean/Mung Bean/Edamame Pasta or Regular Spaghetti
OPTIONAL SAUCE FLAVOURINGS
1 Small Clove Garlic, crushed
1 Teaspoon Mustard
Handful Fresh Basil
1-2 Tablespoons Homemade Dairy Free Nut Pesto
Pepper, to season
Handful Fresh Basil
Fresh or Raw Spinach, Watercress or Rocket
Fresh Cherry Tomatoes
Start by blending together the beans, olive oil, water, nutritional yeast and salt. Blend for 2-3 minutes on the highest speed your blender can reach. Meanwhile, bring a medium pan of water to the boil and, once boiling, add your spaghetti or whichever type of pasta you are using. Add a little salt and a dash of olive or coconut oil to reduce the risk of the pasta sticking together (this can be quite common with gluten free pasta's, depending on which alternative you go for). Once the sauce is blended and has become a smooth consistency, taste it to check you are happy with the flavour and texture. Add more nutritional yeast if you want it slightly cheesier, more salt (and pepper) to season, more water if you want a thinner sauce, and any extras from the Optional section of the ingredients list. (If you want to add bacon, don't blend this into the sauce. Simply fry or grill the bacon, cut into small pieces and set aside to stir through the pasta, once it is cooked).
When you are happy with your sauce, and when the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta, return it to the pan and stir through the sauce. At this point, add your bacon or any other toppings of your choice. Heat through for a couple of minutes then serve. Finish with a little extra olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and a drizzle of fresh lemon juice.
+ You can also use the sauce recipe as an alternative to cheese sauce, which you can use in a healthier lasagne or pasta bake.