Butternut Squash Carbonara
If you had told me two years ago that I would post a recipe with the words “butternut squash” in the title, I would have laughed and said you were crazy. I have always hated squash with a passion. If I wanted something soft and sweet, I’d eat a bowl of ice cream. Every September, though, my dad insists we take some squash from their garden. Every September I do. Then I either feed it to my husband or add it to a pile of small pumpkins for a nice fall centerpiece. I love the strange shapes and bright colors of squash. The taste and texture? No thanks.
Until I made this recipe, that is.
A few years ago, I shared a post titled, Learning to Love Foods You Hate: A How-To Guide for Frugal Eaters. I was promptly asked if I was going to take my own (secondhand) advice. Hmmm. Always up for a challenge, even if it is self-inflicted, I decided that I would. It took me several months to work up my courage. I figured it was time to take the plunge, starting with Butternut Squash Carbonara.
As I plunked the squash into my shopping cart for the first time in my life, I started having second thoughts. Paying money for squash? Something is seriously wrong with this picture. I pushed on, though, determined to love the foods I hate. And guess what? Both my husband and I were pleasantly surprised with this dish.
This recipe is a lightened form of carbonara, with only 2 eggs and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese coating around a pound of noodles. When making carbonara, the eggs and cheese are poured over hot pasta, cooking the eggs and coating the noodles with a smooth, simple sauce. The sweetness of the squash and the saltiness of the bacon are a perfect compliment for these creamy noodles.
Oh, and butternut squash? I love it now. I really do. Slicing it open, it smells fresh and sweet, like a summertime melon. In this recipe, you dice it into small cubes and saute it. It has a nice firm bite. No mushy stringiness here. This year, I actually grew three butternut squash plants in my garden. When the blossoms turned into tiny squash, I felt so proud. I can grow and eat squash! After a rocky start, we’ve come a long way, baby.
Skeptical about squash? You’re in good company. Try this recipe and see if it changes your mind (If it doesn’t, you could easily substitute another vegetable and still have a delicious carbonara dish).
Butternut Squash Carbonara
“If you prefer a creamier dish, you can drain off the oil from the sauté pan after cooking the bacon and squash and add 1 cup of whipping cream. Simmer until cream reduces by half (don’t try to use half-and-half or milk or it will curdle), then proceed with the recipe.” – Foodday
5 slices bacon
2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and minced
3 cups peeled, seeded, and diced butternut squash or other winter squash
12-16 oz. dry pasta (rotini, linguine, fettucine)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Stack the bacon and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips. Set a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the bacon and squash to the pan and cook until bacon is crisp and squash is cooked through, about 10 minutes. You want it in a single layer so it cooks and browns evenly. You may need to do it in two batches, depending on the size of your pan.
- Add the minced garlic and cook about 1 more minute. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon, squash, and garlic; set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously and cook pasta according to package instructions.
- Beat the eggs together in a large serving bowl and add the cheese. Drain the pasta and immediately add to the bowl, tossing quickly to coat the pasta well (reserve and add a little of the pasta water if you like a thinner sauce). Add the contents of the sauté pan into the bowl and toss.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Top with additional Parmesan cheese.
Looking to incorporate more seasonal vegetables into your menu plan? Try out a good vegetarian cookbook — the authors tend to do a fantastic job highlighting produce in a way that makes you want to come back for more! The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen would be a good start. It has amazing reviews! (Amazon)
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Julie @ Running in a Skirt says
What a great recipe! Glad you love butternut squash now! It’s one of my favorites!
Alayna @AlaynasCreations says
Looks good! I like squash but find that I get sick of the flavor pretty quickly when just eating it on its own as a side dish. Might have to try this recipe and see.
Looking for a non dairy version? Try making a vegan “alfredo sauce” using cashews–dairy free! Blend cashews with water till smooth. Place in a saucepan, add seasonings, bring to a boil stirring constantly. The sauce will thicken as it heats. Pour over pasta and enjoy.
1 C cashews
4 C water (start with 2 cups in blender and add more as needed. Don’t add all at once or nuts won’t blend smooth)
Seasonings: garlic, salt, pepper, dash liquid smoke, white wine, lemon juice, onion powder, etc.
Li B says
My complaint relates to peeling and dicing a raw squash. Those things are HARD. I have tried microwaving it a bit before cutting in, but that didn’t seem to help much. Any other tips?
I know this question was posted a while ago, but I thought others might be interested. I have no idea what the price per pound difference is, but Costco sells prepackaged diced up butternut squash. At our Costco its in the large refrigerator with the lettuce. For a quick side dish, we just dump it onto a pan with a little butter and cinnamon. Its really great!
Made this tonight…it was excellent. My husband loved it, cause of the bacon of course. I also added a little leftover chicken. Thanks for the great recipe. It’s a keeper!
I love butternut squash and carbonara. We make it a lot since it’s a cheap, fast meal. We have never had an issue with the eggs not cooking enough. As a matter of fact you have to stir real fast so they become creamy and cooked and not scrambled because they cook pretty fast.
Thanks for the recipe!
Good to know too-thanks for the help.
I would never go near squash, but at my college reunion in 2007, they served a neat-looking soup with a dollop of sour cream in it. I ate it and really liked it, then asked the caterer what it was. It was butternut squash soup, of all things. I think it was served cold but don’t remember. Last week I bought some Campbell’s b-squash Homestyle soup and am anxious to give it a whirl. Once in a rare while, you CAN teach this old dog new tricks.
Twin Mom says
For recipes that call from cream, I like the ultra-pasteurized whipping cream in a box from Trader Joe’s. It’s shelf-stable.
I love Butternut Squash Risotto. I was making my puree to freeze ahead for the recipe this weekend and found a recipe for Butternut Squash bread. YUM. I didnt even have all the spices and it is still so good.
Cori Farmer says
I was concerned also about the eggs not being cooked?
I really love buternut squash – I think it is my favorite. It is wonderful in soups and homemade ravoli too. I think it is the richness of the squash that makes you forget if meat is not included. Michael’s book is great and his website is even more amazing for vegatarian meals (and he did not pay me to endorse him even though he is my friend).
Carbonara is new to me! & I want to double check-so mixing the egg mixture with the hot noodles is enough to cook the eggs? Do you ever
need to heat it up a bit also?
I love squash (even mushy!) so this sounds great to me 🙂
Emily from Frugal Living NW says
Doing the final step quickly, you are mixing the raw egg with hot noodles (and some hot pasta water, if desired). So the egg in this dish is not raw. You could heat it up a bit if you want, but you have to be careful not to end up with scrambled eggs.
After reading more about salmonella risks in eggs, I personally am not concerned about it. Here is a discussion thread with some good information on this exact topic: http://www.seriouseats.com/talk/2009/04/can-i-get-sick-from-raw-eggs-in-pasta-carbonara.html (Warning: the comments start to go downhill toward the end… 🙂
Thanks! good to know.