Marcella, forgive me

Long before I went vegan, I had a love-hate relationship with eggs. I loved foods that had eggs incorporated into them (egg noodles, brioche, crème brûlée), but hated stand-alone eggs (hard boiled/fried). The one exception was scrambled, but only if they were dry as tinder and loaded with veggies. I’ve since become a thrice-a-week tofu scrambler, a pinch of sulphurous black salt at the ready to give them that little extra bit of oomph.

tofu scram w/ Vegg

When I received a complimentary packet of Vegg in the mail a few months ago, I was excited to test out this new product. It smelled like egg! The fingertip dip test revealed that it tasted like egg! But … what if it actually resembled egg yolk? My enthusiasm was waning.

So. I could take the easy way out and hide Vegg in something like egg noodles, brioche, crème brûlée . . . or I could give myself over to the magic of kitchen alchemy and see what happened. The challenge I put to myself: make a traditional dish that features egg yolks prominently, but my former self still would have eaten. I am not exaggerating when I say it took me a month; runny egg yolks were the stuff of childhood nightmares.

I’m so glad I held out, though.

I turned to my culinary confidante regarding all things Italian, Marcella Hazan, and her recipe for this failproof dish. It’s carbonara in its simplest form – no messing about with distracting add-ins like peas, mint or cream. Just spaghetti, salt, pepper, pancetta, grated cheese, parsley and egg yolks. Or in my case: fake pancetta, cheese, and egg yolks. Even with vegan ingredients, though, my (non vegan) Italian husband said this was the best carbonara he’s had in ages.

spaghetti alla carbonara

Spaghetti alla carbonara + vegan parmesan
Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan

serves 3-4 

1/2 pound best quality spaghetti
1 1/2 teaspoons Vegg powder + 6 tablespoons water
4 slices bacon substitute – I’ve been playing around with this recipe
a few generous pinches of vegan parmesan (scroll down for recipe)
salt and pepper to taste
a few sprigs of parsley, minced

Put on a large, deep pot of liberally salted water to boil. Get your skillet ready to heat up your bacon, be it tempeh, tofu, or the adzuki bean/buckwheat version I’ve fallen in love with. Mince your parsley and grind your parm, then set both aside for later.

Make your Vegg: It’s very important to blend the powder and water well for several seconds, with an actual blender of some sort. Whisking will not suffice! I used my immersion blender, on high for about 30 seconds. If you don’t have an immersion blender, there are directions on the package for mixing up the entire packet in a stand blender, as well as how to store it.

Make your veg bacon: Time this so that your bacon is finished cooking right before you drain the pasta. Cut each strip of cooked bacon into half-inch pieces and leave in the skillet to stay warm.

Compose your dish: Drain your pasta and immediately transfer to a large bowl (if using gluten free pasta, rinse with hot water first so that it does not stick). Drizzle with Vegg and toss to coat evenly. Add some vegan parm, salt, and a few generous turns of the pepper mill; toss again. Taste and season as needed. Add the bacon and gently toss one more time. Plate out the individual portions and top each with an additional pinch of vegan parm and minced parsley.

vegan parm

Vegan parmesan

There are myriad vegan parmesan recipes floating around the ether, and I suspect many of them came into being as mine did — based on what was in the pantry. This is my contribution: simple, protein-packed, and quite satisfying.

Use this simple ratio and make as much – or as little – as you want.

1 part pine nuts : 2 parts hemp hearts : 2 parts nutritional yeast + 1 large pinch Himalayan (or another large grain) sea salt

Put all of the ingredients in your grinder or food processor, pulse briefly a few times, and sprinkle liberally on anything that could use a bit of umami.

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6 thoughts on “Marcella, forgive me

  1. This looks so yummy. I haven’t tried Vegg yet, but considering how much I enjoy eggs in virtually all forms, I’m looking forward to it. I used to make fried eggs with ricotta cheese and chives for breakfast occasionally. I wonder how well that could translate. Hm.

    • I was never a fried egg lover, although the scene in Spanglish when Sandler makes his late night sandwich gave me a glimpse of what it could do. I’ve made nut-based ricotta and used it in lasagne, I bet it would be amaaaaaaaaaazing mixed into a scramble at the very last moment. Sprinkled with chives, drizzled with homemade sriracha . . .

  2. This post is a recipe POWERHOUSE!

    I was raised Vedic style vegetarian, so I ate dairy but no eggs. Since I’ve never had them, they’ve always seemed so strange to me! And of course, it’s easy for me to enjoy tofu-egg-approximations because I don’t know if they taste “authentic,” I just know when I like them. Anyway, your scramble looks (and sounds, from the description) amazing.

    Have you ever made tofu omlets, by pureeing tofu with various flavorings in the blender? When I was bigger on soy, I’d make those all the time, but I never tested one on an actual former egg eater. I wonder if they were anything like an actual omlet! :)

  3. Thank you! It tastes a zillion times better than I can convey in words or with a picture.

    Okay, so I have to tell you (even if it isn’t really relevant – that’s just how my rambley-pambley self rolls) that I can remember the exact moment, as a four-year old, that I started hating eggs. I was served up scrambled eggs that were not fully cooked through, and I refused to swallow them. For an hour, until my mother finally let me spit them out. She’s still pissed about it and has to mention it at least once a year. THEN, about ten years later I decided to try an omelet, and it, too, was undercooked.* So, that is the extent of my experience with real eggs until a few years ago, when our rescue hens hit puberty and started dropping [unfertilized] eggs all over the place, and my husband started eating them.

    Wow. That’s some rambling. ANYway, I have never made a tofu omelet, but I am definitely going to try it with this vegan powdered yolk, because let me tell you: my husband, pickiest eater in all the land, says that it tastes like the real deal. So I will perfect a Vegg omelet and post the recipe here, soon.

    Okay, a tofu scramble with Vegg is the only way to go in my kitchen. It’s a great way to use up any leftover emulsified Vegg from another recipe. Or, just blend a bit up to keep at the ready if you make tofu scram often.

    This is what I do:

    Mash up your tofu, drizzle with Vegg and mix it in really well, let it rest while you prep your veggies. Scramble your Vegg-dredged tofu on high heat, add your veggies and proceed as normal.

    *I went vegan at the age of 15 because my mother was a horrible cook. True story!

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