I never get tired of classic Spaghetti Carbonara. But Pumpkin Carbonara, besides the gorgeous color and lovely flavor, is in another league altogether. You may never go back to the original.
Some of our best meals are the result of zero planning, rabid hunger, and whatever happens to be in the fridge. I was flagging after a Saturday cruising and photographing Portland Farmers Market.
I had bought a pile of winter root vegetables but wasn’t prepared to put them to use for dinner. Instead, there was a cup of brilliant hued, pureed pumpkin in the fridge, just begging to be eaten.
There was also a package of chopped pancetta.
As dried and fresh pasta are staples in the OtherWorldly Kitchen, Carbonara was the logical conclusion.
But the pumpkin puree demanded that I rethink one of my favorite Italian dishes: Pasta Carbonara Perfecta Mundo.
Be sure to check that earlier post for the tips and tricks in the section titled, In Search of the Perfect Pasta Carbonara.
Pumpkin Carbonara with Caramelized Pumpkin & Frizzled Sage
I never get tired of classic Spaghetti Carbonara. But Pumpkin Carbonara, besides the gorgeous color and lovely flavor, is in another league altogether. After you try Carbonara with caramelized pumpkin, pancetta, and frizzled sage, you may never go back to the original.
Serving Note Here’s how to twirl pasta into a nest for plating.
Pumpkin Carbonara Sauce
1 cup (8 ounces) cooked, pureed pumpkin (or Red Kuri, Kabocha, or butternut squash) (see directions below)
¾ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for garnish
¼ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
2 large egg yolks
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
small handful fresh sage leaves
Caramelized Pumpkin & Pancetta
4 ounces pancetta, chopped
1 cup (4 ounces) peeled, seeded, ¼-inch diced sweet pumpkin (or Red Kuri, Kabocha, or butternut squash)
4 cloves garlic, skinned, and thinly sliced
¼ cup hard apple cider or dry white wine
4 quarts cold water
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1 pound dried spaghetti or linguine
fine sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
grated Parmesan cheese
- To prepare Pumpkin Carbonara Sauce, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk pumpkin puree, both cheeses, egg yolks, cream, and salt to thoroughly combine. Pour sauce into a large sauté pan or stovetop casserole, and keep warm at the back of the stove.
- To prepare Frizzled Sage, in a small sauté pan, heat oil until a drop of water sizzles on contact. Add the sage leaves and move around with a chopstick while they become crisp. This should take only a minute or so. Use a large fork to gently lift leaves from the oil onto paper towels to drain. Leaves are very fragile at this point, so be careful not to break them. Reserve.
- To prepare Caramelized Pumpkin & Pancetta, in a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil, and add pancetta, pumpkin, and garlic. Sauté briefly until pancetta has rendered most of its fat and pumpkin is beginning to brown. Add cider, cover, and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes, just until pumpkin is tender. Remove cover, turn up heat if necessary, and reduce cider almost completely. Remove from heat. Keep warm at the back of the stove.
- To prepare pasta, fill a large pasta or soup pot with water, and add salt. Cover and bring to a rolling boil.
- Add spaghetti, and boil for about 8 minutes, until just tender with a bit of bite remaining (al dente).
- When pasta is al dente, drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Toss pasta with Pumpkin Carbonara Sauce. If sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water.
- Season with salt.
- Serve immediately, turning pasta onto a large platter or twirling individual portions into pasta bowls, and then topping with Caramelized Pumpkin & Pancetta, Frizzled Sage, freshly ground pepper, and extra Parmesan if desired.
To Roast Pumpkin & Other Winter Squash
There’s nothing like home roasted pumpkin or other winter squash. Canned puree is a sad substitute in this recipe where the taste of the squash comes through bright and bold. Luckily, it’s not difficult to make your own winter squash puree.
- Heat oven to 400ºF.
- Cut pumpkin or winter squash in half with a large knife. Be very careful while doing this and keep the hand that is not holding the knife completely out of the way. (I generally insert the tip of the blade into the squash and then use a sawing motion to cut through one half of the pumpkin at a time.)
- Scrape seeds and filament from the interior.
- Cut squash into smaller chunks and place on an edged baking sheet.
- Drizzle with oil and use a pastry brush to coat all surfaces of the squash with oil.
- Roast squash about 40 minutes, until flesh pierces easily with a fork.
- Remove from the oven, and let cool.
- Peel the skin from the soft squash interior, and add the flesh to a processor fitted with the steel knife.
- Process pumpkin to a smooth puree.
More Pasta Recipes from LunaCafe
- LunaCafe OtherWorldly Mac & Cheese
- Old World Spaetzle: The New Pasta?
- Old-Fashioned Creamy Macaroni Salad
- Spicy Penne & Chicken Salad with Chipotle Lime Dressing
- Spinach & Egg Fettuccini with Wild Mushrooms & Pancetta (Straw & Hay)
- Strozzapreti with Spicy Italian Sausage, Broccolini & Garlic Crema
- World Famous Green Chile Mac & Cheese
Cookin with Gas (inspiration from around the web)
- Butternut Squash Carbonara | Closet Cooking
- Carbonara: Secrets of a Perfect Dish | Departure
- Not Your Usual Carbonara | Food Gal
- Pumpkin Carbonara | Chez Foti
- Pumpkin Carbonara | Minnesota Carbonara
- Pumpkin Carbonara with Paccheri | Relish
- Pumpkin Carbonara with Paccheri | Relish
Copyright 2014 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.
Awesome recipe Susan! Looks delicious! What restaurant have you had the best pumpkin carbonara? Remember to add it to your Besty List! http://www.thebesty.com/lunacafe
Susan S. Bradley
Hi there Julia! I haven’t encountered this dish in a restaurant. But I sure would order it. 🙂