Monday Magazine Pick – Butternut Squash Carbonara

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There are few things as rich and comforting as pasta carbonara.

Depending upon the tradition you believe, real carbonara contains no cream, and I am of that camp. Many call this the chef’s post-work snack. It’s easy to whip and contains just a few ingredients that everyone always has on hand. The dish gets it’s lusciousness from eggs – and for me egg yolks, no watery whites allowed! I have lots of other uses for those.

So when I spotted this egg-less version in Bon Appetit, I knew I wanted to give it go. It was actually posted on the BA facebook page before I had a chance to peruse the magazine and the only words I needed to see were carbonara and butternut squash…hmmmmm…

The recipe called for kambocha or butternut squash, I used butternut because it is so easy to find and I love it.

As I noted in the recipe details below, I actually roasted the squash ahead of time, mainly because the oven was hot and I hadn’t read the recipe yet! In all honesty, I would probably do it that way again. Butternut squashes are thick tough suckers and can be a pain to cube when raw, even with a terrifically sharp knife! I cut it half, removed the seeds, drizzled some olive oil on a sheet pan and roasted it until soft.

Also feel free to sub bacon for pancetta. I don’t always have pancetta around, but I always have some uncured bacon in the freezer!

One other note, I made a new gluten free pasta discovery!

Other than my own homemade pasta, I tend to prefer the quinoa and corn pastas over the rice ones because of the texture. And, when I make my homemade pasta, I use quinoa flour as a key ingredient. I tend to find the rice ones gummy, even if you are meticulous about monitoring it during the cooking process. And one of the unexpected bummers to not eating regular pasta, is the lack of shape selection. I know, sounds weird, but I love tagliatelli and orechietti…anyway I was at a local organic food store and saw a new brand I had never tried. Jovial tagliatelli. It is brown rice pasta, but it is wonderful! Although I think the width of the noodles is more fettucine than tagliatelli, I like the super wide tagliatelli, the flavor and texture were great in this dish!

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Winter Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage
Bon Appetit, February 2014
page 38

2 TB olive oil
4 oz pancetta, chopped
1 TB fresh sage, chopped
1 2lb kabocha or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups low sodium, gluten free, chicken broth
12 oz gluten free fettucine or other long pasta
1/4 cup grated Pecorino, plus more shaved for serving

Heat oil in large skillet over med-high heat. Add pancetta, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8-10 minutes. Add sage, toss to coat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to small bowl and set aside.

Add squash*, onion and garlic to skillet. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add broth, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until squash is soft and liquid is reduced, 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then puree in blender, season with salt and pepper as desired.

Set skillet aside.

Cook pasta in salted water to al dente.

Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain pasta.

Add puree, pasta and 1/4 cup pasta water to skillet and heat over medium, adding more pasta water to get desired sauce consistency. You want a thick sauce coating the pasta well. Mix in grated Pecorino.

Serve with pancetta, sage and shaved Pecorino.

Puree can be made up to 3 days ahead.

*I know I promised to do these recipes to the letter…but I ended up roasting the butternut squash ahead of time. I actually had not read this recipe yet, just knew the ingredients it called for, I had the oven hot the other night roasting potatoes, so I thought I’d get ahead of the game and roast the butternut squash! So if you do the same thing, the only change in the cooking process above is that I cooked the onions and garlic until transparent and added the cooked squash at the same time as the broth. I also didn’t cook as long, only about 10-12 minutes after adding the broth.

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