how’s your week going? i had a couple of friends stay with me this weekend, and they brought along another friend, who had previously refused to go and had been lying to me for a good month about it. but i completely approve of those kinds of lies. we went all over la for a day, and then went to disneyland the next. check out my instagram if you want to see part of the adventures! i’m still having trouble getting back to reality, but maybe this squash carbonara pasta (it’s like the bacon mac and cheese i had, but a little healthier because i need to detox from everything i ate last weekend) will help.
this happened for sunday lunch when i went home for a random weekend a couple weeks ago. i ate lots of food (can you sense a theme with my travels?). i went out for mango sago (mango nectar, mango chunks and tapioca), apple coffee cake, burritos, and thai food, and then made cinnamon rolls, orange olive oil almond muffins and this pasta at home. whew. it was a whirlwind 3 days, and it was good to go back to school just so my eating habits could stabilize and such. home is a dangerous place.
anyways, making squash carbonara was my sunday destiny: i had to rescue a neglected butternut squash (my mom ignored it and instead went on a surprising granola bar making bender, surprising because she’s been talking about making granola bars for 3+ years and finally did it), and there was sage in the fridge (which is never in the house, ever).
i was questioning if it was actually destiny, considering all that time and energy that went into this. i spent a good 1.5 hours (looking back at the recipe, not sure how i took this long oops) on it, thank goodness i love cooking/baking. but then i tasted it, and all was right in my little bubble of weekend at home bliss. the sauce alone was a little too similar to baby food, but tossed with the pasta it became creamy and the squash got toned down to the perfect level of vegetal. the mozzarella added another layer of creamy (just in case you want some real dairy involved in your “carbonara”), and the sage added a hint of herbaciousness. the bacon was the key though- it added salt, crunch and overall deliciousness. though that’s not surprising.
Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage
from Alison Roman via Bon Appetit, February 2014
4 oz pancetta, chopped (I used bacon)
1 T finely chopped fresh sage
2 lb squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2” pieces (I used butternut; kabocha works too)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used water)
12 oz. fettucine or linguine (I used penne)
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino (I used Parmigiano)
Pecorino, fresh mozzarella/brie/burrata, chicken, sausage, etc for serving
- Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8–10 minutes. Add sage and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta and sage to a small bowl.
- Add squash, onion, and garlic to skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until squash is soft and liquid is reduced by half, 15–20 minutes. Cool slightly, then purée the squash and liquid (I reserved some squash for garnishing later) in a blender until smooth; season with salt and pepper (I also added some extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar).
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
- Combine pasta, squash, and 1/4 cup cooking liquid in the skillet and cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Mix in 1/4 cup Pecorino.
- Serve the squash carbonara pasta topped with pancetta, sage, more Pecorino, pepper and whatever other toppings you want to put on it.