Pasta – it has to be the ultimate comfort food. It was rather fitting that National Pasta Day fell on a bit of a dreary day, perfect for a warm wool blanket and a bowl of cozy noodles. I’ve always loved a good Carbonara: such simplicity. But also SO many calories. I stumbled upon a recipe on the Bon Appétit site for Winter Squash Carbonara and fell in love with the idea.
I made some tweaks and turned up this variation that tastes so creamy and delicious with a fraction of the fat and calories that the traditional version has. AND it’s loaded with Vitamin A and fibre from the squash.
Now, a word of advice: that pasta water is pure gold. Make SURE that you don’t throw it out (I used to throw it out and got quite the lecture from my talented hubby…never again). It adds a velvety creaminess to the pasta that gives the ‘impression’ of loads of cream and butter. Best trick ever!
Serves 4-6 (depending on if it is a main dish or a side dish)
- 5 slices good quality bacon, diced
- 3 Tbsp. fresh sage leaves
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 3 1/2 c. diced (peeled) butternut squash
- 1 1/2 c. chicken stock
- 2/3 c. grated fresh parmesan
- salt and pepper to taste
- 12 oz. linguine pasta
1. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon until browned (it should still be soft, not too crispy). Add the sage leaves and cook for approximately 2 minutes, until the sage leaves are crispy. Remove the bacon and the sage leaves with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2. Using the same pan, add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring (add a bit of chicken stock if the pan is browning and drying out). Add the butternut squash and the chicken stock, stir, cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until the squash is soft and cooked through.
4. Transfer the squash mixture to a bowl and, using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Be careful not to burn yourself! Place the squash mixture back into the pan and add the bacon and sage leaves (reserve a couple of sage leaves for garnish) along with the parmesan cheese and salt and pepper.
5. Using a set of tongs, add the pasta to the pan along with 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Mix together with the tongs, adding more pasta water if needed to make it a smooth, velvety sauce.