Winter Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage

Winter squash carbonara

We’ve been spoiled. Over the past few years, we’ve had relatively mild winters; light on the snow and temperatures in the double digits, which are very much not the norm in Buffalo. Needless to say, we got used to those winters, forgetting how cold and snowy it once was. This year, however, was very much like the winters I remembered as a kid; snowing pretty much consistently and temperatures well below zero. Since it has been a few years since we’ve experienced a winter like that, it came as a bit of an unwelcome surprise! While these last two days have been light on the snow, the temperatures have still been absolutely brutal! Since Mother Nature continues to blast us with her frigid air, we’ve been craving simple, yet hearty dishes to warm us up. As I flipped through the pages of the Bon Appetit magazine the other day, I knew that this dish would fit the bill. Easy enough for a weeknight, yet delicious enough to serve guests, this meal warmed us right up! 

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 ounces Pancetta, chopped
1 tablespoon Fresh Sage, finely chopped
1-2 pound Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2” pieces
1 Onion, chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
Salt and Pepper
2 cups Vegetable Broth
12 ounces Fettucine or Linguine Pasta
1/4 cup Finely Grated Pecorino, plus shaved for serving

Add the oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8-10 minutes. Add the sage and toss to coat. Transfer the pancetta and sage to a small bowl and set aside. Add the squash, onion, and garlic to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the squash is soft and the liquid has reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly, then pour into a blender and puree until smooth. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid. Combine the pasta and squash puree in the skillet and cook over medium heat, tossing the pasta in the puree to coat. Add reserved pasta cooking liquid, as needed (I didn’t end up using any). Mix in 1/4 cup of the grated cheese and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve pasta with reserved pancetta and sage, shaved pecorino, and cracked black pepper.

SOURCE: Bon Appetit, February 2014