Recipe Review

The Pasta Queen’s Vegetarian “Rebellious Carbonara” Is Quick, Easy, and Oh-So Good

published Sep 22, 2021
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Credit: Sara Tane

It should take about three seconds of scrolling through my author page to see that I am very enthusiastic about two things: zucchini and The Pasta Queen’s recipes. What can I say? We all have interests, and these are mine. (Do I need to update my dating profile with this information? It seems like these are details that I would want any potential suitors to know about.)

In a very exciting turn of events, these two prized interests of mine came together when The Pasta Queen posted a video making zucchini carbonara. I almost crushed my phone directly in my palms from sheer excitement. I picked up some pasta, zucchini, eggs, and a whole lot of cheese and got down to business.

How to Make The Pasta Queen’s Rebellious Carbonara

Classic carbonara is a pasta dish with eggs, cheese, and a salty pork product like guanciale, bacon, or prosciutto. In this version, the pork is subbed out for zucchini, making this a clever vegetarian option. To start, heat olive oil in a large skillet and sauté thinly sliced zucchini rounds until they are golden-brown. Give ‘em a nice pinch of salt while you’re there. Separately, boil some noodles (spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, etc.) in heavily salted water until al dente, reserving about a cup of pasta water.

Crack two or three egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl and whisk together with grated Parmesan and Pecorino-Romano cheese. Stir in the sautéed zucchini coins (I reserved a few to use as garnishes on the final plated dish). Add the cooked noodles to the same skillet that you used to sauté the zucchini — there should still be some residual oil in there. Stir the noodles with the cheesy egg mixture over low heat while gradually drizzling in some pasta water to create a creamy, luscious sauce. Grate in some more cheese, twirl the pasta onto a plate, top it off with a few reserved zucchini coins, and enjoy.

Credit: Sara Tane

My Honest Review

Wowowowowow. Turns out I have amazing taste because when two of my interests are combined, they result in something that is near perfection. This dish was quick, easy, and so tasty. The most common reservation that home cooks have when it comes to making carbonara is accidentally cooking the yolks and creating a weird, curd-like texture. The Pasta Queen’s method ensures that there will be no unwanted egg cookery. Rather, the yolks mixed with cheese and jammy zucchini create an ultra-savory, luscious sauce that coated each and every noodle.

If you are a carbonara purist, it’s important to note that there is no pork product in this version. So if that’s something that you truly can’t do without, then you could certainly crisp some up before sautéing the zucchini so that you get the best of both worlds. Personally, I didn’t miss the meat while I was eating this. The zucchini was caramelized and jammy, and offered a deep, earthy flavor. I will most definitely be making this again.

Credit: Sara Tane

My Top 3 Tips for Making The Pasta Queen’s Rebellious Carbonara

  1. Sauté in batches. If you are sautéing a good amount of zucchini, it may be in your best interest to work in batches so that all of the zucchini coins have a chance to caramelize and turn a deep golden-brown. If there are too many in the pan, they will likely steam instead of brown. And don’t be shy with the oil: You’ll need some fat in the pan so that they can crisp up.
  2. Feel it out. Like most of The Pasta Queen’s recipes, this is not the time to get too hung up on measurements. I used half a pound of pasta, 1 1/2 medium zucchinis, two eggs, and two heaping handfuls of grated cheese. If you want more of a vegetal flavor, then add in more zucchini (you really can’t have too much). 
  3. Taste as you go. When you mix the pasta with the cheesy egg mixture, give it a taste. If it’s not creamy enough, add more cheese and some pasta water to slightly loosen up the sauce. Honestly, this is a pretty hard recipe to mess up. Gonna go add a pic of this dish to my dating profile and hope for the best.