Winter Squash Carbonara w/ Brown Butter & Crispy Sage
I feel as though, I saved the finest for last. As for the commitment I made to you last week, sharing a breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipe for you to make for your valentine in the comfort of your own home, here is the best pasta Carbonara recipe I have ever come across…
One of my favorite pasta dishes is pasta Carbonara. Although, I am always reluctant to make it because of all the cream, bacon fat, and cheese. When I came across this recipe in the latest issue of Bon Appetit Magazine, I was so pleasantly surprised to see a Carbonara recipe sans heavy cream. Instead, a squash puree is made to act as the binding sauce and that really creates the “creaminess” that this pasta yearns for. I did change a few things from the magazine’s recipe though; I ditched the pancetta and added some paprika which lent the dish the smokiness it deserves, and I crisped up the fresh sage in some brown butter to substitute for the fat that the pancetta would have given. It turned out incredibly amazing. Seriously, one of the best pasta dishes I have ever made. I will be keeping the recipe near, preferably right in my back pocket. I am so excited that vegetarian substitutions worked so well and once again was enlightened on the fact that spices and fresh herbs work like magic when ditching the meat ingredients. I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as we did and don’t forget to serve it with a nice red cabernet or bold zinfandel!
- 3 TBSP unsalted butter
- 12 fresh sage leaves
- 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped in 1/2″ pieces
- 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 cup organic vegetable stock
- 8oz linguine or fettucine (I used the “Garlic and Basil Linguine” from Trader Joe’s)
- 1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino, plus a bit more shaved for garnish
- fresh thyme leaves and red pepper flakes for garnish (optional)
- Turn on medium high heat for the largest sauté pan that you have. Once hot, place the butter right in the middle of the pan and let it melt without touching the pan. The butter should start to brown on the edges. Once the edges turn brown, swirl the butter all over the pan. Place the sage leaves evenly in the butter and cook them for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour the butter and crispy leaves into a small bowl and reserve to the side. Place the skillet back on the stove for later use.
- Peel the butternut squash and then cut in half, separating the big bulbous bottom from the long skinny top. Use the bottom end and reserve the long skinny top for another use. Chop the bottom of the squash in half and scrape out the seeds using a spoon. Chop into 1/2″ cubes and set aside. Chop the onion and garlic.
- In the same large skillet you used to make the brown butter, add the olive oil and turn to medium high heat. Add the squash, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika and sauté for about 8-10 minutes until the onions are translucent and the squash is cooked a bit. Pour the vegetable stock into the skillet and cover with a lid and reduce to a simmer. Simmer this for about 15-20 minutes until the squash is very soft and the liquid has reduced. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, and let cool. Once cooled slightly place it all in a blender and blend until smooth. Place the skillet back on the stove for later use.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the linguine and cook for 5-6 minutes or until al dente. Using a measuring cup, reserve one cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta.
- Put the pasta into the large skillet on the stove. Add the squash puree (a cup at a time) and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water and cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more pasta water and more puree when needed. The squash puree should coat the pasta nicely, if it is too thick keep adding more pasta water. Pour in the brown butter and crispy sage and mix well to combine. Add the finely grated cheese and give it another toss. Season with a bit of salt and pepper, fresh thyme leaves and red red pepper flakes for color. Shave a few pieces of Pecorino over the top for serving.
- The squash puree can be made up to three days of ahead of time and kept in an airtight container in the fridge.