Healthy Carbonara Pasta recipe with a lightened-up creamy garlic cauliflower cream sauce that feels as indulgent as it is good for you! (no eggs no cream)
Recently, Mr. Hungry has been complaining that I never remake the BEST HH recipes. In his eyes, this is one classic I don’t make enough. This original recipe was posted in 2014, and just in time for Valentine’s day, I’m updating it!
Carbonara’s essential ingredients are a creamy, garlicky sauce made from eggs, cream, and cheese topped off with bacon. Not exactly the world’s healthiest dish (but delicious.)
I turned this traditionally high calorie, high-fat meal into a weekly staple healthy dinner by using cauliflower to make a healthy garlic “cream” sauce and center-cut bacon.
I also used my favorite high protein, healthy pasta.
Something about pasta is romantic isn’t it? It’s the go-to Valentine’s Day and first date meal.
Fun fact, my first date with Mr. Hungry was at Olive Garden in college. It was supposed to be a casual meet up for lunch but conveniently kept getting pushed back to dinner time. I finally realized he was asking me on a real date, not just a casual lunch!
I don’t have a clue what I ordered, but I will tell you that I straight up used my rather unconvincing fake ID to order my wine on that first date, so that was over 12 years ago. Ah, good times in college. Thanks to that first date so long ago, pasta will always have a special place in our home!
If you want to be super authentic, I suggest serving this pasta with my antipasto salad! Super easy and DELICIOUS!
How to Make Healthy Carbonara Pasta
Start by cooking up your bacon, or buy pre-cooked, your choice! I will say when I updated this recipe, I increased the bacon from four slices to the entire pack, because, uh, because bacon. That’s why!
Next, steam your cauliflower. Typically I use my Instant Pot to steam veggies, but for this recipe, I used the stove colander steamer. That way, I could cook the pasta in the same water when I was done with the cauliflower.
You’ll also want to saute some garlic in butter or olive oil. Butter will produce a more traditional taste.
While you steam up your veggie medley (I used the microwave), add your pasta water, steamed cauliflower, garlic butter mix, parmesan, and seasonings to the blender or food processor.
And blend it up into a garlicky, creamy, delicious sauce!
You’ll only need half the sauce for the recipe, but Mr. Hungry added a bunch more to his plates, so we ended up using all of it. (all of the sauce is included in four servings of the nutrition calculations!)
Healthy Carbonara Pasta Recipe
- Steam cauliflower florets for 10-12 minutes or until fork-tender. Remove from heat and let cool while pasta cooks.
- Add pasta to the water you used to steam the cauliflower and cook 7-10 minutes until al dente (or according to package directions). Stir constantly to prevent sticking together.
- While pasta cooks sauté minced garlic on low in butter until tender, fragrant, and slightly caramelized about 5-8 minutes.
- Add frozen vegetables to the microwave-safe dish, cover, and microwave for 7-9 minutes until cooked through (stir halfway in between).
- Drain pasta but save 1 cup of pasta water to use for the sauce (it will help thicken it). Add butter/garlic mix, Parmesan, salt, pepper, cauliflower, and ½ cup of pasta water to high powered blender or food processor (I used a Vitamix). Blend/process till smooth. (Use more pasta liquid if too thick).
- Combine frozen vegetables, chopped bacon, pasta, and 1/2 of sauce (can use more if desired). *Store leftover sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for future use.