Any pasta lovers in the house? If there’s not, this Butternut Squash Carbonara is going to bring them runnin’ on over.
It’s no secret that I love pasta. LOVE it. Don’t know what it is about the texture, flavor, and variety that pasta brings to my diet but I love it. Although I enjoy pasta in all forms all year round, I really wanted to put a seasonal spin on a recipe leading up to the holidays. Not only that, but I’m in the middle of my taper week before my first marathon. Which means I’ve got a little free time on my hands and had to find something to occupy my mind to tame down the crazy.
The end result: Butternut Squash Carbonara using fresh pasta from Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria.
Don’t they look like little pasta pumpkins?
Carbonara is usually made with linguine, but Katie’s is known for their super-fresh pasta made in house. They sell it by the pound out of their St. Louis area restaurants but you can also order online. I happened to be in the area to run a half marathon with my friend Kelly and afterwards we were hungry, as you can probably imagine. Katie’s wasn’t far and I knew I had to try it before I headed back to Kansas City!
The meal was fantastic (if you’re ever in the St. Louis area, you have got to check it out!) and I wanted to share the love with Mr. Street Smart. I picked up two pounds of fresh pasta, one of which went into this recipe. The pasta shape is called Fiori and there’s a few different varieties. This one is a little taller, but still open and seriously reminded me of the shape of a pumpkin. Perfect for fall, right? I wanted to use it in this recipe because the open shape would be perfect for the thick, creamy sauce made from butternut squash.
This recipe is a little more involved than most recipes I share, but I promise the juggling of ingredients and managing multiple stove burners is going to be worth it. The nice part is that roasting the butternut squash and garlic is a hands-free cooking method, so you just need to keep an eye on one skillet and one pot to boil pasta. And though the pancetta is more high-maintenance and needs some attention, stirring is actually discouraged for the shallots and mushrooms to give them a chance to brown and caramelize.
And don’t worry if you don’t have a high power blender. Pause and scrape the sides and experiment with adding additional pasta water, one tablespoon at a time. This can help you get the same smooth and creamy texture we’re aiming for.
I love packing the veggies into my pasta dishes and this butternut squash carbonara is no exception. But just because we’re loading up on the veggies doesn’t mean we’re sacrificing great flavor or texture. You’ll be surprised at how decadent and indulgent this sauce is. I’m not knocking traditional carbonara dishes, but this is going to pack in a lot more nutrition.
Butternut squash is a popular fall and winter vegetable. Here’s a few fast facts about it:
- It’s a hard-skinned squash, so unlike summer squash and zucchini, you can store butternut squash for up to several months in a dry place.
- In a 1 cup serving, you’ll end up with more potassium than a banana.
- It’s also an excellent source of Vitamin A (the bright orange color gives it away) and a good source of Vitamin C.
- To make peeling easier, I’ll pierce the skin a few times, microwave, then peel. Others have baked/roasted the whole squash before cutting it open, but that method is best if you already plan to puree or blend the flesh of the squash for a recipe.
Like all pasta recipes, this one is easily modified. You can use onions instead of shallots, or make it a vegetarian or vegan recipe if that’s more your style. And while I went with the fresh pasta this time, I have also made it using dried pasta and it turns out nearly the same.
Check out the full recipe below – has anyone ever tried making their own fresh pasta from scratch?
Butternut Squash Carbonara
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 to 40 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
1 pound pasta (16 oz.)
1 small butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
6 oz. pancetta
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup pasta water, reserved
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup frozen green peas
Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)
Fresh sage for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Carefully peel and chop the butternut squash into 1/2″ cubes. Arrange in a single layer with the cloves of garlic on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Flip to coat evenly, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until the squash is fully cooked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, prepare the other ingredients. Finely chop the pancetta (if not already chopped) and add for a medium skillet over high heat. Stirring occasionally, allow the pancetta to cook until the edges are browned. Remove from skillet and place on a paper-towel covered plate to absorb excess fat.
Drain grease from the skillet then add the sliced mushrooms and shallots. Brown for 10-15 minutes or until the mushrooms have released all their liquid and begun to brown and the shallots are caramelized. Remove from heat.
Thaw the frozen green peas in water, than drain and set aside.
On a separate stovetop burner, bring water to boil to prepare the pasta. Boil about 10 minutes for al dente pasta. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Add the roasted butternut squash, garlic, reserved pasta water, heavy cream, dried sage, and salt to your blender. Blend on high until a creamy texture is achieved, then add to cooked pasta. Add the green peas, mushroom mixture, and crispy pancetta to the pasta and stir to evenly combine.
Serve immediately with parmesan or fresh sage for garnish, if desired.
For a Vegan Recipe: Omit the pancetta and substitute the heavy cream for your preferred non-dairy unflavored creamer or non-dairy milk. Omit the parmesan cheese.