Vegetarian Carbonara Recipe

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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.

Now, what is carbonara exactly? Pasta carbonara is an Italian invention (Roman to be exact): it’s an incredibly savory pasta recipe made using long pasta noodles, egg, Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, and either bacon or guanicale. The raw egg is mixed into the warm pasta and used to make a creamy, delicious yellow sauce. Since Alex and I eat most vegetarian, we wanted to create a vegetarian carbonara recipe! This version is a spring take with some springtime vegetables added in.

To mimic the smoky taste of bacon, this vegetarian carbonara recipe uses smoked mozzarella instead! It’s also mixed with spring vegetables: green peas and a bit of sauteed spinach, to add some extra nutrients and texture. 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.


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


  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.)


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).

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