Carbonara with Smokey Mushrooms

Pasta is such a comfort food isn’t it. I think a creamy pasta dish is one of my all time favourites. Shortly after turning vegan we discovered the incredible cashew and all its uses. (Obviously we’ve always loved a cashew nut, but we had no idea on the versatility of the things!) Maybe you’re unaware and I’m about to blow your mind too… I hope so! Cashews can be used as a great alternative for recipes with a creamy/white sauce. A lot of recipes call for the cashews to be soaked over night but for many recipes as long as you soak them in boiling water for at least ten minutes they are good to go! All you need to do then is pop them in a blender with a few other ingredients and you can make a creamy cashew sauce, a cashew cream cheese, a cashew creme fraiche, cashew cream, cashew milk… and I’m sure many more things I am yet to discover -CASHEWS!!! What an ingredient.

This sauce is super simple and can be made very quickly. We use a nutri-bullet to blend our sauce, but any high powered blender should work just fine. If you only have a small food processor this will work too, you might just need to add only half the milk then add the rest to the pan later so it doesn’t spill out everywhere. I think they only key thing to this recipe is to blend the cashew mixture until smooth. You want to avoid having big bits of cashews left in the liquid.

In this particular recipe, I add in some oat cream (Oatly), just for extra indulgence, but it isn’t absolutely necessary – I just happened to have some in the fridge but we’ve made this plenty without and it is still delicious. In terms of mushrooms, portobellos work very well but you can use any kind if you can’t get those. You could of course switch out the pasta too, fusilli or penne will work nicely. If you’re not sure where to find nutritional yeast, you can definitely buy this in all health food stores like Holland & Barrett, but you can now find it in almost all supermarkets too – usually in the free from section. We use the ‘Engevita’ brand.

We served this dish up with some delicious crispy kale, simply baked in the oven for 5 or so minutes with a sprinkling of salt and olive oil. The trick to great crispy kale is to massage the oil in with your hands. Place on a baking tray and cook on the top shelf of the oven, keeping your eye on it so it doesn’t burn and sprinkle on top of the pasta.

Carbonara with Smokey Mushrooms

A creamy, indulgent pasta dish, similar to a classic carbonara but made with a base of cashew nuts, with smokey oven roasted portobello mushrooms and peas.

Course Dinner
Keyword carbonara, cashews, pasta, spaghetti
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4


  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek can omit and use an onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 300 g portobello mushrooms 4 in total or other mushrooms
  • 125 g raw cashew nuts
  • 4 Tbsp nutritional Yeast "Nooch" heaped
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 300 ml oat milk or other plant based milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 400 g spaghetti or Linguine
  • 4 handfuls frozen peas
  • 100 ml oat cream optional
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place the cashews into a jug or a bowl and cover with boiling water, set to one side and leave to soak for at least 10 minutes. The longer the better.

  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180°c. Start by prepping the marinade for the mushrooms - tip the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, garlic granules and smoked paprika in a bowl with two tablespoons of olive oil, a good pinch of salt and pepper and mix well.

  3. Slice the mushrooms into strips and add to the marinade. Use your hands to massage the marinade into the mushrooms until they are completely covered. Spread them out onto a baking tray and roast in the oven for around 30 minutes, or until they start to crisp (but not burn).

  4. Slice the leek in half lengthways and into thin strips, discarding the ends, then peel and thinly slice 3 garlic cloves.

  5. Discard the water from the cashews and tip them into a blender along with the nutritional yeast, oat milk, 1 garlic clove, the juice of 1 lemon, apple cider vinegar, a good pinch of salt and pepper and blend until super smooth.

  6. Pop the kettle on again for the pasta and cook the pasta according to packet instructions (about 10-11 minutes if using linguine or spaghetti) and add a good pinch of salt into the water. When the pasta is about half way cooked, add the frozen peas into the water to cook too.

  7. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil into a deep frying pan and when hot add the leek and cook for about 5 minutes until it starts to soften, then add the garlic and oregano and stir for a further two minutes.

  8. Then add the creamy sauce to the leeks along with the oat cream if using (not absolutely essential but a nice addition) and stir through to heat the sauce until it begins to thicken. This is a good time to check the seasoning and add more salt or pepper to your desired taste. Check on the mushrooms and see how they are doing.

  9. When the pasta is about cooked (you can cook it until al dente) drain the water and carefully tip the pasta and peas into the creamy sauce and incorporate the two together. Turn the heat down and when the mushrooms are cooked add these to the pan and stir everything together. If the mushrooms need longer, take the pasta off the heat and re-heat with the mushrooms once they are ready.

  10. Serve up with another sprinkling of black pepper and enjoy!