Sometimes (quite often actually) the love of Italian food cannot be denied, just as surely as the cravings for cuisine of the American South. One of the most beloved dishes is carbonara, which also has about as many different versions as there are people who love it.
This is my recipe for a sumptuous vegetarian version of the dish, and it's especially great if you have some veggie hot dogs just lying around in the icebox, going spare.
Pasta (you can use any pasta; I like fiori) enough for 1-2 people
2 vegetarian hot dogs
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil
Synthetic bacon pieces
1) Cook and drain the pasta, setting it aside. You can also do this at the same time as you are preparing the rest of the carbonara if you want.
2) Heat 1-2 tsp olive oil, or more if needed, in a frypan. Either press or cut the garlic cloves into the oil. Use only medium heat; you don't want to cook too hot with olive oil. Let the garlic cook and release its aroma, then add 1-2 tbsp synthetic bacon pieces. Stir to coat with oil and cook it all together.
3) Slice the vegetarian hot dogs lengthwise and then cut them into slices and add them to the oil. Stir again to coat. Cook these for about 5 minutes, longer if desired.
4) Add the olives and stir to coat. You won't need to cook these for as long.
5) In a bowl, blend the egg with pepper and stir until smooth and consistent.
6) Add the pasta to the oil mixture and, as before, stir to coat. Add the cooking wine and stir again, making sure to cook it long enough for the wine to cook out. You want only a hint of it and its roundness.
7) Turn off the heat and pour the egg mixture in, stirring thoroughly and constantly until the residual heat cooks it enough. You want the pasta and the rest to be coated in the egg, not for it to cook itself separately.
8) Serve while hot!
Tips and Such
- You can probably just cook the pasta at the same time as the rest of it, but if you feel like you might make a mistake or feel rushed, just cook the pasta first, drain it, and leave it in its pot. It won't be sitting long enough to get cold, and its heat will be refreshed by cooking it with the oil mixture.
- There are various brands of synthetic bacon pieces. These are commonly found with the salad dressings and fixings in many markets. Make sure to read the ingredients, though, because not all of them are vegetarian! However, many of them are just textured soy protein pieces with smoke flavour. Brands like Bacos and McCormick are, at present, completely vegan and have a circle-U symbol on them.
- Due to the nature of this dish, it doesn't keep very well refrigerated, so try to fix only as much as you intend to eat. If you do end up saving some as leftovers, refrigerate it and try to use it within the next day or two at most.
- If you don't have cooking wine, you can just use mirin and sake in combination. As with the wine, make sure it cooks out before you add the egg.
Vegetarian hot dogs are hot dogs, or wieners, that are made with only vegetarian ingredients, typically from soy.
Synthetic bacon pieces are commonly pieces of soy protein that has been textured, coloured, and flavoured with smoke to give it a taste similar to bacon. Several of these are vegetarian or even vegan, but be sure to check the label and, if in doubt, check online or ask around.
Cooking wine is wine that is not intended for drinking, for whatever reason, and so is used for cooking. It can be that the wine is not of a suitable quality according to its vineyards, or perhaps it just didn't turn out the way they wanted. Note that you can use any wine for cooking, but wine that is sold as cooking wine in grocery stores is usually of a quality thought unsuitable for drinking purposes.
Italian food is so romantic! Although if you're having an intimate night, you may want to omit the garlic. But who knows, perhaps if you both eat it, your kisses will be fiery and no-one will try to ease in on your fun!
};) Dhiar <3