Butternut Squash Carbonara is a comforting egg-free version of this classic Italian pasta dish.
- 2 pound butternut squash (peeled, seeded, cut into ½” pieces, about 3 cups)
- ½ large onion (cut into ¼‑inch dice, about 1‑cup)
- 4 clove garlic (peeled & halved)
- 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage (divided)
- 2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ cup olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper (as needed for seasoning)
- 4 ounce thick cut bacon (cut crosswise into ¼‑inch strips)
- 1–2 bunch aparagus (1 ½‑inch tips only, save stalks for another use) to taste
- 2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 12 ounce dried fettuccine
- ¼ cup grated Pecorino (plus some extra shavings for serving)
In a large bowl toss squash, onion, garlic, half the sage, the thyme and a pinch of nutmeg with olive oil. Pour the mixture onto a rimmed parchment-lined baking sheet. Season with salt & pepper, then roast in the oven until very soft and lightly caramelized, about 45 minutes. You may need to stir the vegetables and rotate the baking sheet halfway through to assure even roasting.
Meanwhile, place bacon into a large cast iron or non-stick skillet, turn the heat to medium and cook, turning occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Add remaining sage and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon and sage to a medium bowl; set aside. Discard the fat in the pan and wipe the skillet mostly clean with a paper towel, leaving a slick of fat in which to cook the asparagus tips.
Return the skillet to medium heat, add the asparagus tips in a single layer and cook without disturbing until they begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Carefully toss the asparagus tips to turn them and continue cooking until barely cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to the bowl with the bacon and sage.
Remove squash mixture from oven. Turn off oven. Discard garlic pieces and put the remaining squash mixture into the large skillet you just used for the bacon; season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to high, add broth and bring it 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 if necessary. Continue to 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.
Serve pasta topped with reserved bacon and asparagus mixture. Garnish with additional shaved Pecorino, remaining sage and a good grind of black pepper; serve warm.