Zucchini Noodle Cacio e Pepe

gluten freevegetarian
Cacio e Pepe with Coconut Bacon

Cacio e Pepe with Coconut Bacon

The moment you’ve all been waiting for: my recipe for coconut bacon.

If you’re one of my readers who asked for this recipe last week when I posted it again and again on Instagram and Snapchat, then you’re in luck – the time has come!

Cacio e Pepe with Coconut Bacon

Lately, I’ve been reconsidering going vegan.

… crickets ….

I know that many of you are actually vegan and vegetarian that follow this website, but from past surveys, most of you are simply gluten-free, health conscious, Paleo or doing a Whole30.

Cacio e Pepe with Coconut Bacon

I hate to turn away my most loyal, happy readers by going vegan and not posting healthy meat-friendly recipes.

However, if I do decide to do go vegan or do a vegan month, I would always include something like, “Goes well with: [insert protein here.]” Just talking “out loud” here.

I’ve been wanting to share this coconut bacon recipe for a while, and I’m actually going to make a video on it soon, because it’s just that good! It really does have that smoked bacon-y flavor, it’s incredible!

Cacio e Pepe with Coconut Bacon

I first spotted it at a vegan restaurant in NYC, but I forgot about the concept until I saw it again over at Cookie and Kate (she’s my favorite vegetarian food blogger!)

So, I decided to make my own version to share with you all! Now, there are some flavorings you can add to the coconut bacon to suit your preferences – if you like a little more smoke, add in a pinch of smoked paprika. If you like it really salty, add in a more generous seasoning of salt.

There are also different flavors of liquid smoke – I chose hickory, because I love hickory smoked bacon!

The process is simple – you toss together maple syrup, soy sauce (or tamari), and liquid smoke, combine and then add in the coconut flakes and toss thoroughly to mix.

Then, you lay the coconut flakes out on a parchment apper lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees F, flipping halfway through. When they’re nicely browned, you let them cool for 5 minutes and voila – coconut bacon!

Cacio e Pepe with Coconut Bacon

This recipe yields 1 cup of coconut bacon, so if you make this recipe, you’ll have extra to use for the week! You can also freeze coconut bacon for super future use!

This recipe is actually a vegetarian version of the Cacio e Pepe that’s in my cookbook and was first seen on the blog.

The Matrix Challenge with Mark Bittman

I also made this zucchini noodle recipe to join the #MatrixChallenge, in celebration of Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix cookbook, coming out this late October! Actually, he’s a fellow Random House author (I mean, what an honor to share a publisher with one of the best food writers of all time!)

In this cookbook, he uses thematic matrices to show how simple changes in preparation and ingredient swaps in an original recipe can yield dishes that are each completely different from the original, and equally delicious.

This is obviously totally up my Inspiralized alley – this is what Inspiralized is all about – swapping in veggie noodles for pasta or changing the preparation of certain veggies to make totally innovative dishes!

For this #matrixchallenge, I’m using zucchini, obviously – here’s a quick excerpt from the zucchini section of his cookbook!  Inspiralized and Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix

Nutritional Information & Recipe

Weight Watchers PointsPlus* 5 points

*These points were calculated using the official Weight Watchers PointsPlus® calculator. We are in no way affiliated with Weight Watchers, we are providing this information based on popular demand.


Cacio e Pepe with Coconut Bacon

Yields 2

15 minPrep Time

20 minCook Time

35 minTotal Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe


  • For the coconut bacon:
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (not shredded)
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (I used hickory flavor, but you can use anyone you'd prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon reduced sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • salt, to taste
  • For the pasta:
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 medium zucchinis, Blade D, noodles trimmed
  • freshly cracked black pepper, from a grinder
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese + more to garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the bacon, except for the coconut. Then, add in the coconut and toss together gently to mix well until all the coconut flakes are covered in the bacon dressing.
  3. Spread the flakes out into an even layer on the prepared baking tray and season with salt. Bake for 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway, until flakes are mostly dry and turning golden on the edges. Keep in mind that the flakes will crisp as they cool, so don’t worry if your flakes aren’t crispy after 10-12 minutes.
  4. Remove the “bacon” from the oven and set aside to cool.
  5. While the bacon cools, place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add in the olive oil. Once oil heats, add in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Then, add in the zucchini noodles and toss to cook, for about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Season the zucchini with a generous amount of freshly cracked pepper and add in the cheeses. Remove from heat, toss to combine thoroughly and then plate into two bowls. Top each bowl with a few more cranks of black pepper and 1 tablespoon of coconut bacon onto each plate. Garnish with additional Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, if desired.

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annie says:
You forgot the ingredients Ali.;)
Ali Maffucci says:
The recipe has been updated! Slight plugin glitch :)
Anonymous says:
You really should have someone proofread your posts. Should be paper not apper.
Love, love, LOVE! I've got to try making coconut bacon it sounds amazing!!
Ali Maffucci says:
Alyssa, you would LOVE it!!! Goes so well with quinoa too :)
Anonymous says:
How long can the coconut bacon be stored and what is the safest method of storage ... Thank you
Pat says:
Coconut Bacon sounds good but I am allergic to soy. Any suggestions for a substitute for soy that would work? Thanks!
Allegra says:
You can use Coconut Aminos. I think it actually tastes better than soy sauce. Coconut Secret The Original Amino Soy-Free Seasoning, 16.9 Ounce https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LWQLCJ4/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_ZzQcwbHM2MVME
Beth Ann says:
Can you use something other than liquid smoke? Maybe just omit?
Ali Maffucci says:
The liquid smoke gives it that bacon-like taste, that's the whole point!
Jeremy says:
If you're adverse to liquid smoke or just don't have it on hand, try smoky/ earthy spices like paprika and cumin.
Anonymous says:
You can find liquid smoke on amazon!
Toni says:
I'll keep following you if you go vegan!
Janet T. says:
I think this sounds great, and we make our own coconut chips with a fresh coconut and the dehydrator. I love your vegan recipes, but my husband will not be on board with it. I would prefer a selection of both, but you have to follow your own needs.
Amy M. says:
While I am not vegan, my daughter is a vegetarian and I also look for vegan recipes to make for my son's vegan girlfriend. I think it's fairly easy to add or subtract meat from a recipe so for me I would love to see some of your creative takes on recipes. (I need some vegan ideas for Thanksgiving!) I will be roasting a turkey for some guests, but need some vegan options as well. Thanks!
Oooooh cannot wait to make this! I've been drooling ever since I saw it on your Instagram. I went vegan a few months ago and I love it. I think this is your blog, your life, so readers or haters will come and go no matter what you do. It's all about doing what makes you feel your best!
Jeremy says:
Very excited to hear about a potential return to a vegan diet. I am vegan and encourage it for not just health of body but also health of our planet and the health of mind peace that comes with not having to harm animals to eat. Looking forward to more great recipes!
I have been thinking about going back to vegetarian recently. Just don't crave meat that much anymore, but I'm still undecided!

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okay okay, I promise I'll be explaining soon why I'm feverishly testing all of these recipes and not (yet!) sharing the recipes. 😇 but I just had to share this photo because these little Carrot Dogs in Blankets 🥕 came out so well , my picky dad (he's a great man but has a very judgy/picky palate), ate one and said, "tastes like a hot dog!" 🌭 👏🏼⁣

would you try them?! 👇🏼⁣

#carrotdogs #carrothotdogs #toddlerfood #funfood #pigsinablanket #veganfood #vegetarianfood #partyfood

I have nothing prolific to say today (I’ve just been madly testing recipes for this project I’ll be announcing soon) except that today was the first day in my life that I actually enjoyed sliced tomatoes on a sandwich. 🍅 🍞⁣

I’m not a fan of raw tomatoes, except in something subtle like a pico de gallo or if they’re a tiny part of a meal, like a garnish. but today, I made this chickpea tuna salad melt with tomatoes and spinach and LOVED it. 👍🏼⁣

it got me thinking… I can’t be the only one. do you like raw tomatoes? 🤔

luca made a friend today! 👦🏼 🚴‍♂️⁣

one of the things that has made me sad during COVID has been that Luca hasn't spent much time with other kids his age. this summer, we had a little pod of a few kids, but slowly but surely, as the year went on, kids moved to the suburbs, enrolled in school (we didn't feel comfortable), and then as the temperature dropped, the rest of the kids stopped braving the cold and since we felt uncomfortable with indoor playdates, it was really just our little family hanging out. and Luca wasn't hanging out with anyone his age much. ⁣

I have so many thoughts on this. will this change his personality and social skills forever? will he be socially awkward? will he lose out on so many developmental milestones? will this affect his emotional awareness? the list goes on. I know it's only a year or so, but that's over 1/3 of his entire life!⁣

and now that we're in Florida, we just keep to ourselves at my parents' house and don't see any other kids. it's so nice to be together as a family, and I know so many families can't be together right now, so I'm so grateful for that. the other day, Luca saw a 7-year-old boy on a bike in my parents' neighborhood and he asked us if he could be his friend. I almost broke down in tears.⁣

so by chance, we were out on his bike this afternoon and sure enough, we saw the little boy again, riding his bike, with his mother. in that moment, I knew I had to make a move - so I called out to the mother and asked her, "I know this is going to sound weird, but my son would love to hang out with your son! I'd love to get your number so they can ride bikes together sometime!" I was so nervous, haha! ⁣

and just like that, Luca made a friend! they immediately started riding their bikes together (it was so cute I couldn't handle it!!!) and Roma even came a little bit later and literally slipped her hand into the little boy's hand, it was like she was starving for that connection. it was so adorable, and I'm so happy for Luca to have someone to safely play outside with and so I can shed some of this mama worry.⁣

as for these chocolate donuts, search the blog, they’re an oldie but a goodie! 🍩🍫