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.
Reprinted with permission from Pasta Modern: New & Inspired Recipes from Italy by Francine Segan. Copyright 2013. Published by Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, an imprint of Abrams. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Serves 4
- Active time: 30-45 mintues
- Total time:30-45 minutes
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- Olive oil
- 2 cups (230g) diced, seeded and peeled kabocha or butternut squash
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large egg yolks
- Pecorino or other aged cheese
- 1 pound (445g) paccheri or any short thick pasta, preferably Garofalo
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons oil and cook the onions until they are very soft, about 8 minutes. Raise the heat to high and continue cooking until the onions are golden and caramelized, about 4 more minutes. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.
In the same pan, add another 1 or 2 tablespoons and fry the squash until tender and golden at the edges, about 8 minutes. Return the onions to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and keep warm.
In a large serving bowl, beat the yolks with pepper and 2 heaping tablespoons grated cheese.
Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain and toss in the egg mixture, stirring until creamy, then stir in the hot onion-squash mixture. Serve topped with grated or shaved cheese.