There’s still a lot of butternut squash left from this year’s harvest, and as delicious as my soup might be, I wanted to try something else.
I spent some time looking up butternut squash recipes, made some notes, read some comments, and thought about how to come up with a fall dish that brings out the best of this classic fall vegetable. I still have plenty of sage in my herb garden and some bacon is in the fridge, waiting to be used for something.
Let’s make a butternut squash carbonara! A rich and creamy meal, without using any eggs.
Normally, I bake my bacon in the toaster oven, but not this time. We want the rendered bacon fat as our sautéing liquid and flavor booster. Start by cooking the bacon over medium heat in a frying pan, then adding chopped sage after a couple minutes. When the bacon is almost ready, add the chopped garlic for the last minute, then remove everything from the pan – except the bacon fat. Chop the bacon, toss with sage and garlic, and set aside.
Put the pan back over medium heat and cook the chopped onion for about four minutes before adding the cubed butternut squash and seasoning with salt and pepper. While occasionally stirring the pan, start cooking the pasta water.
Cook your favorite pasta (I used fettuccini) to al dente in boiling salted water. Before you drain the water, set aside a cup of this liquid gold. Anytime you cook pasta, save some pasta water and add it to whatever sauce you’re making. You’ll be very happy with the result. The starch in the pasta water will emulsify and thicken any sauce you’re planning to serve with your pasta.
Once the butternut squash is nice and soft – it took mine about 35 minutes – transfer to a blender, add heavy cream, and purée. Do not clean your frying pan – put it right back on the stove and pour in the contents from the blender.
Now, add the well-drained pasta and stir everything together. Add 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan, keep stirring, and look what happens. The cheese will slowly melt and be absorbed by the squash purée, and everything will thicken up. Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and keep stirring. Season with salt, freshly cracked pepper, and grated nutmeg.
You can control the desired thickness of the sauce by adding more or less pasta water and/or letting some liquid evaporate if it’s too runny. I like my sauce pretty thick so it nicely sticks to the fettuccine pasta.
Divide into four pasta bowls, top with the chopped bacon-garlic-sage mixture, and serve.
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Butternut Squash Pasta
- 4 slices bacon
- 2 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 (1-1/2 lb) butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and diced into cubes (about 3 cups)
- 1/4 c heavy cream
- 1 c pasta water
- 1/2 c
- 1 box (16-oz) fettuccini
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Cook bacon in frying pan over medium heat, add sage after a couple minutes, then add garlic for the last minute before bacon is crisp and done. Remove ingredients from pan - do not clean the pan - chop the bacon, toss with sage and garlic, and set aside.
- Put the pan back over medium heat, add onions and cook for about 5 minutes until onions turn translucent and smell heavenly. Add squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash is soft.
- In the meantime, cook your favorite pasta in salted water, save a cup of the pasta water, drain, and set aside.
- When the squash is soft, add the pan contents in a blender, add heavy cream, and puree. Again, do not clean your frying pan in between. Just put the blender contents back in the pan.
- Add cooked pasta to the pan, along with 1/2 c cheese and about 1/2 c pasta water. Keep stirring and watch the sauce thicken up, with the cheese melting. Season with salt, freshly cracked pepper, and ground nutmeg. If the sauce is too thick, add some more pasta water; if it’s too runny, cook a couple minutes to let some liquid evaporate.
- Divide into four pasta bowls, top with the chopped bacon-garlic-sage mixture, and serve.
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