Winter Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage

It’s winter, and in the winter is there really anything more satisfying than a big, warm, plate of pasta?  


While trying to find a recipe that utilized in-season ingredients, I discovered this great take on a carbonara via epicurious.com.  A carbonara is an Italian pasta dish that originated in Rome and is based on eggs, cheese, bacon, and black pepper with pasta.  This dish uses pancetta (fancy bacon) and, instead of making a sauce with eggs, it uses winter squash and sage.

The original recipe actually calls for a Kabocha squash, but after not finding that in our area I used a butternut squash instead.

Butternut squash is full of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin D, and even has some magnesium in it, so using squash instead of eggs definitely helps ramp up the nutritional benefits of the dish.

Cooking the pancetta (I quickly crumbled it before the pan got too hot)

The cooked pancetta and sage mixture that gets sprinkled on top of this dish is quite possibly one of my favorite toppings ever–I could seriously put that on everything.

Doesn’t this look so good? (Pancetta cooked w/sage)

Once you’ve chopped all of the ingredients, this dish is actually very easy to make. The most difficult/time consuming part is chopping up the squash.



The end result is combination of great fall flavors and a hearty plate of pasta sure to leave you feeling warm and a full on a cold winter’s day!

Be sure to download the free recipe cards and check out our previous food posts here.


Winter Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage


  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 oz pancetta, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage (separated)
  • (1) 2 lb kabocha or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into ½” pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups low -sodium chicken broth
  • 12 oz fettuccine or linguine
  • ¼ cup finely grated Pecorino, plus shaved for serving


1. Heat oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add pancetta, reduce heat to med., and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8–10 min. Add 1 Tbsp. of sage and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta and sage to a small bowl; set aside.

2. Add squash, onion, remaining sage, and garlic to skillet; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 8–10 minutes. Add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until squash is soft and liquid is reduced by half, 15–20 min. Let cool slightly, then purée in a blender until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Reserve skillet.

3. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

4. 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; season with salt and pepper.

5. Serve pasta topped with reserved pancetta and sage, shaved Pecorino, and more pepper.

6. MAKE AHEAD TIP: Squash purée can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

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