Looking for a way to one-up your friend that studied abroad in Rome and won’t stop talking about how good the carbonara was? Here’s a healthier twist on the classic comfort dish that can also be tweaked for vegetarians and vegans. I cooked this over break and it was so delicious that I lost all my dignity and started eating the sauce straight from the blender with a spoon.
Butternut Squash Carbonara (adapted from Alison Roman)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped OR shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
About half a butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into ½” pieces (about 3 cups)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken OR vegetable broth
12 oz. fettucine or linguine
¼ cup finely grated Pecorino, plus shaved for serving– Optional
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta or mushrooms, 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; 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 a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until squash is soft and liquid is reduced by half, 15–20 minutes. Pour into blender and puree until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Add cheese, blend again until combined in a creamy sauce. Taste it, make sure the ratios of salt, pepper, cheese, and sage are to your liking, and adjust as necessary. Pour over cooked pasta and add reserved pancetta and sage.To serve, add more shaved cheese and crumbled sage.
Photo via Bwogger Cara