Butternut Squash "Carbonara"


This is not exactly a Carbonara as it has no eggs... but the pancetta and look of it sure do resemble one. Since butternut squash ravioli are my all-time favorite fall/winter food, I decided to make butternut squash SAUCE since it's not as time consuming as making the fresh pasta and stuffing. I was inspired from this recipe from Bon Appetit but I made a few of my own tweaks! Read on...

The butternut squash itself is very sweet so adding the saltiness of the pancetta really creates an explosion of flavor. Not to mention that there is no better combination to go with squash or pumpkin than sage leaves! You can fry them up in the pancetta fat or just saute them in butter for a minute to add another depth of flavor to the dish. I chose to use orechiette pasta (which means little ears in Italian!) because they hold a lot of sauce but feel free to use spaghetti or fettucini if you want it to look more like a Carbonara. Make sure to top with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese for the ultimate decadent pasta dish!

Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup pureed butternut squash (see below notes for instructions)

2 tbs olive oil

1/4 cup mascarpone cheese

2 ounces of pancetta (optional)

10 sage leaves

1 small onion, thinly sliced into half moons

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup Parmesan

salt & pepper to taste

1/2 box of orechiette pasta

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • In a medium pan, heat the olive oil and add the pancetta. Stir the pancetta until it begins to brown, then remove and place onto a paper towel lined plate

  • Add the sage leaves to the hot pan with the pancetta grease and cook on each side for about 20 seconds. Remove and add to the pancetta plate on the side

  • Using the same pan, add the onion, garlic and salt and pepper (add a little olive oil if it's dry) and cook until the onions are completely soft and tender

  • While the onions are cooking, heat a large pot of salted water over high heat to cook the pasta in. Once the water is boiling, cook the orechiette 2 minutes less than the instructions on the package tell you to and reserve a cup of pasta water

  • Once the onions are cooked through, add the pureed squash to the pan and half a cup of pasta water and bring to a simmer. Stirring quickly, add the mascarpone cheese to the pan and stir until it's fully dissolved. The sauce should be loose and not too thick, so adjust as necessary with the remaining pasta water

  • Once the pasta is ready, toss it into the sauce pan and fully coat the pasta with the sauce as well as the pancetta and Parmesan cheese

  • Serve pasta topped with fried sage leaves and grated Parmesan

NOTES:

For the pureed butternut squash, preheat oven to 375. Cut the butternut squash vertically down the middle and place flesh down onto a baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes or until you can easily stick a fork through it. Scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor with salt and pepper

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