Ever since I was a little girl, I knew that my favorite food in the entire world (and what I figured would be served continuously at heaven's cafeteria, or even better, heaven's room service), was and is spaghetti carbonara. The etymology of carbonara leads back to carbone, meaning coal, suggesting that it was originally popular among coal miners, or that it was a dish favored by the Carbonari, an anti-monarchist secret society (1).
A traditional carbonara combines pasta, cream, cheese (usually parmesan or the like), ham, and at the point of serving when the pasta is steaming hot, a raw egg which then cooks directly on the noodles. My dad made it best, using carmelized onions and crispy bacon instead of small chunks of ham. One ex-boyfriend added chili powder for a little kick. Since getting off of the ham-wagon, I've sorely missed this, my number one favorite, and I've wondered whether it could be pulled off a la vegetarian.
It turns out, Lightlife's Smoky Tempeh Strips, though not matching the texture of bacon, go a long way in matching the taste. The hickory flavor combined with the slightly sour, grainy flavor of tempeh, work very well with the onions and egg. Dan made some string beans from his dad's garden, and all of was delicious.
3/4 package of spaghetti
1 package of Lightlife Smoke Tempeh Strips, crumbled
1/2 yellow or vidalia onion, chopped
4 eggs (one per person is the best) (you can separate the white and yolk and only use the yolk, or use both).
grated parmesan to taste
3 Tbs cream
Butter for cooking the onions, or you can use Earthbalance
1. Boil and salt water. Sautee the onion for as long as it takes to brown (usually longer than you think, about 10 minutes or more).
2. Set aside the onions. In the same pan, add the tempeh. Try to get it as crispy as possibly, so if you need to add olive oil, do so.
3. Cook your pasta, al dente. Drain.
4. While still steaming hot, add the egg and mix thoroughly. Add the cream, tempeh, and onions. Serve with freshly ground pepper.