Pumpkin and Sage Carbonara with Whole Wheat Spaghetti
Alsatian Pinot Gris
The sunny, high-elevation vineyards of Alsace, France turn out ripe yet elegant white wines. Specifically, Alsatian Pinot Gris, possibly the grape’s pinnacle expression, brims with waxy stone fruit flavors that complement the gentle sweetness of the sauce.
Fall marks squash season. What could be better than combining the earthy, nutty notes of pumpkin with the savory, salty tang of pancetta over pasta. For a slightly healthier spin on this carbonara, swap in whole wheat spaghetti — because every bit counts.
Serves 4-5; Total time: 30-40 minutes
4 ounces pancetta, guanciale, or bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped plus 4 fresh sage leaves, reserved
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 2lb pumpkin, butternut, or kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and diced into cubes
14 ounces organic chicken broth
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon brown sugar (if using pumpkin. Skip if using butternut or kabocha.)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup shredded pecorino or parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
14 ounces dry whole wheat spaghetti
Brown and crisp pancetta (or selected substitute) in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped sage, tossing to coat in fat. Cook 1-2 minutes, then remove both from pan, leaving a couple of tablespoons of rendered fat behind. Transfer pancetta and sage to a plate, cover with a paper towel, and set aside.
Keep pan on medium-high heat, and add onions. Sauté for a few minutes, until just translucent, then add pumpkin (or chosen substitute). Season with salt and pepper, tossing occasionally until onions begin to brown. Next, stir in garlic, cooking for 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add chicken broth and nutmeg, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to rolling simmer and cook until broth reduces to half, about 15 minutes. Add brown sugar, if using.
While cooking pumpkin, prepare pasta. Fill a large stock pot 2/3rd with water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Add spaghetti. Cook to al dente, around 8-9 minutes, checking for doneness. Drain, reserving one cup of cooking water.
Check pumpkin mixture for doneness. Pumpkin should be soft but not mushy. Transfer mixture to a blender. Add and cream. Work in batches if blender is small. Blend until smooth.
Using same skillet, combine pasta, pumpkin puree, and ¼ cup of reserved pasta water. Cook over medium heat, tossing to coat pasta thoroughly. Thin sauce, if needed, with several more tablespoons of pasta water until satisfied with texture. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste, then stir to combine. Add 1/3 cup of cheese, tossing lightly. Divide pasta between bowls. Sprinkle each bowl with additional cheese, plus reserved pancetta and sage. Add several turns of freshly cracked black pepper to each bowl, garnish with one sage leaf. Serve.