Thursday, September 22, 2011

not-so-hidden squash pasta carbonara

Thank you to everyone who has sent in requests!  I've started with: "My family of four consists of a vegetarian, a celiac, a picky child, and a child who will eat most things as long as they are not spicy at all. Have you got a recipe for that? If not, anything with pumpkin or squash would be good."  I usually like to approach food by thinking expansively about what I love and what is delicious about an ingredient or a dish or an idea, but lately that's gotten me into a rut.  I've become familiar enough with our local, seasonal offerings that there are two or three ways to prepare everything that I bring home from the CSA or the farmers' market or my back yard  that I know I love and find delicious, and then I can't think beyond those.  Any creativity I might retain is further mutilated by the thousand little concerns about lack of time and fear of the showdown with my culinarily unadventurous and picky son.  No wonder then that I'm suddently attracted to the restrictive model.  Though in fact this recipe requires modification at every step to be gluten-free and vegetarian, and my picky son didn't like it at all (he doesn't like squash; I thought hiding it in pasta would work.  It didn't.  When he looked at the food on the plate, he was delighted.  The first bite, he gobbled.  On the second bite, he looked concerned.  By the third bite, we had a showdown.  If I'm lucky, he learned something about how to politely decline food, and I learned that it's not so much the look or the idea of squash he doesn't like, but the taste.)

Like most great Italian dishes, this one is inspired by a recipe of Marcela Hazan's ("Carbonara Sauce"), but makes such significant changes that it's a different suace entirely.

Squash Pasta Carbonara
serves 4-6

1 lb. bacon
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated romano cheese
1 cup roasted squash
black pepper
1 box pasta

Start with roasting the squash.   This can be done up to three days in advance.  Cut a winter variety squash in half and remove seeds.  Set, cut-side-down, on a pan lined with tin foil.  Bake at 350 for about an hour.  Scrape insides out of the "shell" and set aside. 
     Heat pasta water.  Cut bacon into 1/4" pieces and saute until just crispy.  Smash garlic cloves with flat side of knife and remove skin and cook in with bacon.  (obviously, if you're vegetarian, skip the bacon part but do saute the garlic in olive oil and then warm the cream in the pan).  Meanwhile, mix the eggs (lightly beaten), grated cheese, roasted squash, pepper and salt.  Add cream to bacon and stir; reduce to very low heat.
     Cook pasta according to directions (I like spaghetti or penne for this sauce; and of course if you're gluten-free use a gluten-free pasta).  Drain but not too well, so there's still a little hot water in with the pasta.  Pour immediately into squash mixture and then add bacon. 
     Serve immediately, with extra grated cheese on the side.