When Casey and I visited Italy on our Honeymoon my very favorite part of the trip was–you guessed it–the food!!!
One night in Rome we dined at this hole in the wall restaurant with no tourists in sight (well, except us). We ordered course by course because we were taking our time and really enjoying the slow pace of the meal. After our first pasta course, we had planned to next order a meat dish. However, the pasta we had was so good that we continued to order more pasta dishes. I think the server thought we were a little bit crazy because Casey even ordered a pasta course for his dessert. But this pasta was THAT good. Oh and let’s not talk about that meatball that Casey spilled on his yellow polo and had to wear for the rest of the night because we were nowhere near our hotel. As the person who was given the nickname “the spiller” growing up, I get a lot of pleasure when the spill is not my doing. So that was pretty hilarious and fun for me. :)
Okay so what does all this have to do with this pasta dish that could absolutely positively never be as good as the magic pasta we consumed in Italy? Well, the Italy pasta was amazing but oh so very far from healthy. I gained about 10 lbs on our honeymoon and I had no regrets when I got home. However, pasta served with sauce made from egg yolk and cream is not a food you should have on your daily (or really even weekly) menu. These are splurge items and oh yes I do splurge (probably a little bit too much), but I like to try to find healthy substitutes for the unhealthy flavors to enjoy on a regular basis.
ENTER BUTTERNUT SQUASH.
I found this recipe in Bon Appetit magazine and my mind was blown. How in the world can a recipe made with pureed butternut squash as the sauce taste as good as a dish made with eggs and cream? Now THIS is magic!
This dish is wonderful (and for some reason it tastes even better the next day). The pureed squash creates a creamy, velvety texture akin to a very fatty sauce. But actually, you are eating a very healthy vegetable! This would be a great recipe to use to sneak in veggies for a family meal with young children. It’s also great for those of us who already love veggies!
If you are health conscious and a pasta lover, make this! It is astonishing how something so healthy can taste so darn good.
Butternut Squash Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit
Makes 4 servings
2 tbsp olive oil
4 oz. pancetta, chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1 2-lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into ½” pieces (about 3 cups) (I like to microwave my squash whole for about 5 minutes to soften the squash and make it easier to cut)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
12 oz. fettucine or linguine
¼ cup finely grated Pecorino, plus shaved for serving
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8–10 minutes. Add sage and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta and sage to a small bowl; set aside. Add squash, onion, and garlic to skillet; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 8–10 minutes. Add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until squash is soft and liquid is reduced by half, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then purée in a blender until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Reserve skillet. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Combine pasta, squash purée, and ¼ cup pasta cooking liquid in reserved skillet and cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Mix in ¼ cup Pecorino; season with salt and pepper. Serve pasta topped with reserved pancetta and sage, shaved Pecorino, and more pepper.