On Monday morning, lying in bed and catching up on my blog-reading after a happy and busy weekend with friends, I saw this post from Cookie and Kate, and was immediately obsessed. I spent the rest of the day thinking about various versions of the creamy butternut squash linguine, and by the time I stopped at the store on the way home from work I had reversed all of Kate’s healthy twists to the dish and it had morphed into a full-blown, decadent carbonara in my mind. Which, it turns out, is how the folks over at Bon Appetit had originally published it anyway. There’s no denying that I’m a fat kid at heart – give me the opportunity to cover pasta in fried salty bits and cheese and heavy cream and I’ll go all out (and then hide the rest of the leftovers to help keep my vegan challenge going strong).
Now that it’s (finally) March, we only have a few weeks left where root veggies, kale, and heavy winter flavors are what we need to keep us going, so I’d suggest that you indulge in this dish now before all you can think about are radishes and asparagus and rhubarb. I’m not sure how best to convince you that it’s worth the calories, so I’m just going to ask you to trust me. If it makes you feel better, serve it with gently sauteed bitter greens, like broccoli rabe or mustard greens – the bitterness is a perfect counterpoint for the sweetness of the roasted squash and the saltiness of the pancetta. And enjoy it! One of winter’s redeeming qualities is the comfort food it inspires, so if eating food like this is what gets you through the lingering cold, go for it.
Butternut Squash Carbonara with Fried Sage and Caramelized Onions
- 1 small butternut squash, about 1 1/2 – 2 lbs.
- 2 TBS olive oil
- sea salt and pepper
- 1/2 lb. slice pancetta, cut into small cubes
- 1 small onion, peeled and sliced into thin half moons
- 1 lb. fettucine
- 1/4 c. heavy cream
- 1 TBS butter
- 1 small bunch sage
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel the butternut squash and cut into slices that are half an inch thick. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Flip slices with a spatula to coat with the oil. Roast until fork tender and slightly caramelized, about 20-25 minutes, checking and flipping after 10 minutes. When tender, remove from oven and place in a blender. Set aside.
- Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat and add the pancetta cubes. Cook until crispy and browned on all sides, stirring frequently. Once cooked, set aside on a paper-towel lined plate. Discard all but 2 TBS of the pancetta grease. Heat the 2 TBS of grease over medium-low heat, then add the sliced onions to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until thoroughly caramelized and slightly crispy, about 15 minutes.
- While the onions are cooking, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the fettucine according to package directions and drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Place the cup of pasta water in the blender with the squash and the 1/4 c. heavy cream, and puree until very smooth. Toss the squash puree with the fettucine.
- Just before serving, melt the 1 TBS of butter in a small frying pan. Fry the sage leaves in the butter until crispy, about 2 minutes. To assemble, divide the pasta between the serving plates, and top generously with cooked pancetta, caramelized onions, and fried sage. Serve immediately.