There are a couple of carbonara recipes in Francine Segan's new cookbook, Pasta Modern. This version, which substitutes seasonal, creamy kabocha squash for the guanciale, is certainly the most creative of the bunch. Save for the egg yolks, it is but a bare shadow of the original. Yet these changes don't detract from the ultimate pleasure of diving into a bowl of these stubby, squash filled tubes of pasta.
Why I picked this recipe: Incorporating one of my favorite seasonal squashes into a rich and creamy carbonara was a no-brainer.
What worked: Using egg yolks instead of whole eggs is a great idea as they are less likely to curdle than the whites. It takes all of the anxiety out of that final step.
What didn't: Segan doesn't say to save pasta water here, but you'll want to use some to loosen the sauce a little in the final step. If you time it right, you can also use some of the pasta water to deglaze the skillet used to cook the squash as well.
Suggested tweaks: If you can't have carbonara without pork, you could certainly render guanciale, pancetta, or bacon before sautéing the onions and squash, using that fat instead of olive oil.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. Follow her @KateHWiliams.