What Ingredients You Need for Butternut Squash Carbonara Pasta
- Butternut squash, 5 cups cubed
- Shiitake and cremini mushrooms, 8 ounces total
- Sage, 1 bunch fresh
- Vegetable or chicken stock
- Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino
- Avocado oil or other neutral high-heat cooking oil
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and black pepper
Additional Ingredients Notes and Resources
- Butternut Squash: Try to use only the "neck" part of the butternut squash. The round body part of the squash that hold the seeds is fine to eat, but somehow seems too string-y for a smooth puree.
- Garlic: If you really like garlic, double the amount to 8 cloves.
- Stock: If you are using a very dark brown roasted vegetable or chicken stock, the butternut squash puree will be a darker, browner sauce (but it will taste awesome). If you want to keep the butternut squash puree brighter orange, use a lighter colored stock, or water, or use only 1 cup of dark stock and 1 cup of water. And it will, of course, still taste awesome. I used homemade dark Rich Roasted Vegetable Stock and water.
- Pasta: I used a dried fettuccine pasta that was on sale at the grocery store. Honestly, any long pasta will work. In fact, even a short pasta will work.
- Cheese: I used a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano and grated it myself into the pasta in the pot, as well as over the plated pasta in bowls. You could probably use pre-grated parm, but why. You can use any hard, salty cheese to grate into the sauce.
- All fresh herbs and produce from either the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market on Wednesday, or Whole Foods Market when I can’t find it at the farmers’ market.
Vegetarian/Vegan/Gluten-free: To make this pasta vegetarian, leave out the bacon and double the amount of mushrooms. Just fry the sage and mushrooms in 4 tablespoons of grapeseed oil first, remove the fried sage and mushrooms, leave the oil in the pan, and proceed. You can go as far as making this pasta vegan if you leave out the cheese, and even gluten-free if you find a gluten-free pasta you like. I have not yet.
Butternut Squash Carbonara Pasta Recipe
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil or other neutral high-heat cooking oil
- 6 ounces thick-sliced bacon chopped (to make vegetarian, leave out bacon and double the mushrooms, see Notes below)
- 8 ounces shiitake and cremini mushrooms sliced
- 1 small bunch of fresh sage about 10 leaves
- 5 cups cubed butternut squash the neck part of a medium sized butternut squash
- ½ medium onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 cups rich vegetable or chicken stock
- kosher salt to taste
- 12 ounces long pasta
- ½ cup grated hard Italian cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino
- crushed red pepper flakes
- additional kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- In a large pan with high sides, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped bacon and cook about 10 minutes until bacon is cooked through and crisp at edges. Remove bacon to a separate plate lined with paper towel to soak up some of the excess grease from the cooked bacon. Leave oil and rendered fat in pan.
- Add mushrooms and sage leaves to pan. Cook, stirring gently to keep leaves intact, until sage leaves are crisp. Remove mushrooms and sage to plate with bacon.
- Drain all but 2 tablespoons of fat from pan. Turn heat down to medium. Add garlic and onions and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add butternut squash to pan and cook until squash starts to soften, about 10 minutes. Pour stock into pan, turn up heat to bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer until butternut squash is falling apart tender, about 20 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat. Spoon solids from pan into food processor. Begin puréeing butternut squash and solids. Slowly add stock from pot to food processor about ½ cup at a time until purée is the consistency of thick tomato sauce. Discard any remaining stock. Return the puréed butternut squash to the pan.
- Taste and season with salt. The sauce may not need too much salt because bacon is salty.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water from pot, then drain pasta of the rest of the water.
- Add a little more than half of the cooked pasta into pan with the puréed butternut squash sauce, tossing pasta to coat. If there is enough butternut squash sauce in the pan, gradually add the remaining pasta and toss to coat until all the sauce has coated the pasta. (You may not use all of the pasta, it all depends on how much butternut squash actually fit into 5 cups.) Use pasta cooking water to thin out sauce if needed. Stir in ¼ cup of the grated cheese. Add about half the bacon to the pot and combine with sauce and pasta. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt.
- Serve pasta immediately topped with remaining bacon, fried mushrooms, the remaining shredded cheese, fried sage leaves, crushed red pepper, and fresh cracked black pepper.