Parsnip carbonara with oyster mushrooms
( SERVES 4 )
Photo by Tam West
I thought seeing as we only have one more week left of winter it would be nice to celebrate it with one of our most loved Little Bird cafe comfort meals. This creamy delicious carbonara takes just a few minutes to whip up.
Instead of pasta I’m using parsnip which is abundant at the moment and incredibly good for you with its high vitamin C, folate and fibre content. It might sound a bit weird to use parsnip as pasta but I promise you won’t be disappointed. It works perfectly as a noodle alternative, especially in this dish with its mild, nutty and smoky flavour. And instead of cream I am using soaked cashews which create a creamy sauce in seconds in your blender.
At the cafe we make our own coconut bacon out of young coconuts to garnish it, but if cracking coconuts and making them into bacon is not your thing, many stores now sell coconut chips that have a smoky sweet flavour that would do the trick. You can also leave them out as this tastes really good without it. This recipe is a version of one featured in my new cookbook Little Bird Goodness.
For the noodles and smoky alfredo sauce
|1 cup||Cashew nuts, soaked for 2-4 hours|
|½ cup||Water, filtered|
|½ tsp||Sea salt flakes|
|½||Garlic clove, crushed|
|¼||Shallot, roughly chopped|
|2 drops||Liquid smoke|
For the mushrooms
|2 Tbsp||Olive oil, cold-pressed|
|1||Garlic clove, finely chopped|
|½||Shallot, finely chopped|
|2 cups||Brown mushrooms, sliced|
- Spiralise the parsnips into noodles and set aside.
- To prepare the smoky alfredo sauce, rinse and drain the soaked cashews thoroughly. Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and blend until creamy and smooth. Make sure the drops of liquid smoke are actual drops — this stuff is strong. The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- To finish, heat oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and lightly brown garlic and shallot. Add sliced mushrooms and cook over a medium to high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add sea salt flakes to taste and cook mushrooms until golden brown.
- Add 1 cup alfredo sauce (or more to taste) and warm it through; this should only take around 30 seconds to 1 minute. If you overcook the sauce, it will become very thick and change its flavour — you really just want to warm it through.
- Add parsnip noodles and fold through the sauce and mushroom mixture. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water or alfredo sauce.
- Cook oyster mushrooms on a medium heat in a large frying pan with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Serve the creamy carbonara in bowls topped with coconut bacon chips, 3 oyster mushrooms each and parsley leaves.