One thing that I hear all the time from people who are wanting to try Paleo is “how am I going to give up pasta?” I can completely sympathise. In my former life I loved pasta. I was previously vegetarian for 12 years and this meant that pasta and sauce was my go-to meal throughout my teenage years and early twenties. Looking back I certainly never felt good after eating it but there was no way you would have been able to get me to give it up without a fight! As I started to introduce meat and fish back into my diet my reliance on pasta diminished and by the time I started out on Paleo I had already reduced my cravings for it considerably. Now I can honestly say that I enjoy vegetable pasta so much that I am not even tempted by the real thing.
Until you have given spiralized vegetables a go it is difficult to understand just what I am talking about. I have a close friend who, until recently, relied heavily on pasta as her main food of choice. Due to being diagnosed with a gut disorder she has had to give it up. Having previously scoffed at my pleas that courgetti was actually a delicious alternative she finally gave in and bought a spiralizer; she now absolutely loves it and is telling everyone that they have to give it go! Not only does she feel much better for eliminating pasta from her diet but she even managed to lose 7lbs by just replacing her usual pasta fix with courgetti.
Once you get started with Paleo pasta substitutes you soon discover that there are a whole host of recipes that you can try out; from simple courgetti with pesto to the classic clam vongole (recipe coming soon!) you can recreate all your favourite pasta recipes but without the dreaded after meal bloat. Now doesn’t that sound good?
Whilst courgetti is the most commonly used pasta substitute there is no need to stop there. Sweet potato and carrots are also popular options and of course, as provided in this recipe, you can use butternut squash. This is one of my personal favourites and it has a lot to bring in terms of flavour and texture and is a perfect fit for this recipe.
I have always been a fan of rich sauces and spaghetti carbonara was a favoruite of mine at university. It is always something that comes to mind when I think of comfort food and I just had to see if I could create a Paleo friendly version that was worthy of the carbonara title. I have to say I am pretty pleased with the results.
The combination of egg yolks with the cashew cream works perfectly in creating the traditional flavours of the carbonara sauce. The saltiness of the bacon combined with the sweet and crunchy butternut squash spaghetti is a delight and the hints of garlic bring it all together nicely. For me, this is ideal bowl food to be eaten when relaxing after a long day at work or a hard session at the gym. You can even take the leftover to work for lunch the next day.
A few tips on using cashew cream…
Cashew cream comes in useful in Paleo cooking; both savoury and sweet. I use it to create the base of sauces (see Chicken in a Creamy Mushroom Sauce for one of my favoruite go-to recipes for a mid week dinner) I have even used it to create Paleo Yorkshire puddings! Mix with some coconut oil and you are on your way to creating a non-dairy cheesecake. It really is that versatile.
You can make cashew cream virtually any consistency you want, from a watery milk like consistency right up to spooning cream. Add probiotics and you can even make cheese and yoghurt. Using the incredible properties of cashew nuts in these versatile ways also provides a handy alternative to coconut milk. Whilst I love coconut milk and its nutritional benefits range far and wide, it is always useful to have an alternative on standby for those recipes where you need more of a neutral flavour base to your sauce. As versatile as coconut milk is, I did not feel that it was suitable for a carbonara but the cashew cream works a treat.
In this recipe you are looking for the cashew cream to be the consistency of single cream. The quantities provided in the recipe should yield this but depending on your blender you may find it comes out slightly thicker or thinner. Please feel free to add more water or nuts accordingly to make sure that you reach the desired consistency for this recipe.
Paleo “No Pasta” Carbonara
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
50g cashew nuts
2 egg yolks
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp olive oil
250g butternut squash, spiralized
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Flaked sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
- Grill or fry the bacon and chop into small bite size pieces.
- Blitz the cashew with the water until you have the consistency of single cream.
- You can adjust the quantities of water and nuts as needed until this is achieved.
- Beat the egg yolks with the cashew cream; season with a pinch of salt and the garlic.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the butternut squash spaghetti.
- Stir fry for about 4 minutes, just to take the raw edge off it and increase its absorbency.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the creamy sauce.
- The residual heat will cook the egg creating the sauce that defines a classic carbonara.
- Garnish with parsley and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
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