Recipes > Penne Carbonara

Penne Carbonara


This smoky, creamy pasta dish uses smoked tofu and fresh peas for a satisfying combination of flavors.
  • Serves: 2
  • Active Time: 1 hr
  • Total Time: 1 hr
  • Views: 39,794
  • Success Rating: 78% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Preparing the Mise en Place

Preparing the Mise en Place
  • 1/2 cup leeks, thoroughly washed and minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup Basic White Sauce
  • up to1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup fresh shelled peas, raw or lightly blanched
  • 1/2 cup smoked tofu, 1/4–inch dice, (substitute tempeh bacon, or home–smoked tofu)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Note: This dish is very quick, so you need to have all of your mise en place and equipment organized before you begin cooking.

Step 2: Cooking the Dish

Cooking the Dish
  • 1/2 lb gluten–free penne (or wheat, if you prefer)
  • 4 qt water
  • 1 tbsp sea salt (optional)


To begin, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the optional sea salt. Next, add the penne and cook al denté according to package directions, stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking.

While the penne is cooking, bring a fry pan to medium–high heat. When hot add the leeks and stir until the leeks begin to stick to the pan. Deglaze with the white wine and continue to stir well for 1 to 2 minutes.

Next, add the Basic White Sauce to the sautéed leeks, stirring well. Dilute the mixture slightly with a bit of vegetable stock. Depending on the thickness of the white sauce, you may need to add a bit more stock.

Add the tofu and peas and mix thoroughly. Continue to cook until the sauce begins to simmer.

At this point, the pasta should be al denté. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Toss well, making sure to fully coat the pasta.

Remove from the heat, add the parsley and freshly–ground black pepper.

Serve immediately.


  • Rebecca B
    Rebecca B
    I tried this recipe last night using home smoked tofu,fresh fava beans from our garden (the squirrels ate most of our peas this year), the cashew bechamel with the Rouxbe basic vegetarian stock, and a pinot gris wine. I felt that the wine was the dominant flavor in the sauce, and pretty much overpowered the other ingredients. Tofu recipe: Rouxbe basic brine (overnight) Cold smoked tofu in Emson pressure smoker with applewood chips. (I did a 10 minute cold smoke to prevent the tofu from turning rubbery. The end result was a flavor and texture similar to smoked mozarella). Wine (2012 Benton Lane Pinot Gris: IMO, a pretty tasty wine with a lot of fruit and a racy acidity that I've been buying a lot a serving with both salads and stir-frys this season): I used this wine in the cashew bechamel and in both the penne carbonara recipe, as directed. The penne recipe called for 1/2 cup of wine to descale the leeks. I reduced the wine by about 2/3, and then added the basic white sauce, followed by the Rouxbe basic vegetable stock. The basic white sauce, though, also contains about 1/2 cup of uncooked wine (so about 1/8 cup uncooked, for the quantity of white sauce called for in this recipe. (Would cooking down the wine with the onions in the bechamel before blending better integrate the flavors?) I personally don't think that this is an unusually large amount of wine in a white sauce, and so was surprised by it's dominance (in particular, raw melon and floral flavors that IMO overwhelmed everything else). I'm guessing that the cashew white sauce is lower in fat than a standard whole milk bechamel. Is this accurate? If so, would adding a tablespoon or so of olive oil directly after the descaling and before the bechamel "mellow" the wine a bit more in relation to the sauce? Or, on another track, would a different wine pair better with this sauce? (I've never tried pairing with a cashew based sauce -- so maybe it's not a fat content issue, but one with basic flavor integration). Would an oaky/buttery (something that undergone a malolactic fermentation ie: California chardonnay) be a better choice for a cashew cream sauce pairing? Your thoughts are appreciated
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Rebecca - I know that wine and I like it as well. It is rather floral and I can see how that flavor impacted the balance of the dish. Upon reducing, the fruit flavors concentrate and the sweetness of the wine comes forth. Cashew cream is just as fatty as milk based bechamel, but it is less sweet - so perhaps this wine needs a touch of added sweetener to round out the flavor. Chardonnay may be a better option for you, given the depth and body it brings. I have used mostly drier and lighter wines, such as sauvignon blanc and have been happy with the results. It may also be that the dish needed a touch more seasoning/salt - this will bring out the flavor and depth from the cashews and aromatics as well. ~Ken
  • Rebecca B
    Rebecca B
    Hi Ken, That's a good suggestion. I believe I have a tendency to under-salt the dishes I make (I'm somewhat salt sensitive & often find restaurant food too salty). I'm accustomed to the flavor, but when I'm cooking for others, I try to bump it up just a bit so that the food is more palatable to everyone else. When I make this again, though, I'll try this and see if it makes a difference. It's good to know that the cashew bechamel is comparable in fat content to a dairy based bechamel. I will avoid adding additional oil to cashew cream to enhance flavors, and look for other alternatives instead. Becky
  • Hanan B
    Hanan B
    Can you skip the wine or do you have to use wine? is there any other optional for not using wine in general? Thank you..
  • Lauren L
    Lauren L
    Hi Hanan, you can skip the wine. For this recipe I would suggest skipping it rather than replacing it. It has such a delicate flavor profile and something too acidic could be dominating. It will still be delicious. You can skip the wine in the béchamel as well. Just make sure to add enough stock to keep it from being overly thick. Lauren

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