One meal I had in Rome that stands out was the signature dish of a family-run restaurant in Trastevere called Trattoria di Lucia. The dish is apparently unique to Rome, called spaghetti alla gricia, and only requires two main ingredients: guanciale (cured pork cheek) and Pecorino Romano cheese. So simple, yet delicious. I wanted to add more of a "fall/winter" spin on it, and found some good-looking butternut squash and brussels sprouts at the fruit market that I thought could go well with the pancetta (unfortunately I found no guanciale) and cheese.
Handmade Pasta with Pancetta and Butternut Squash
1 lb. handmade (or store-bought dried) noodle pasta
1 medium butternut squash, split in half and peeled
4 oz. pancetta, cubed
1 1/2 c of brussels sprout leaves
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
The pasta turned out quite good, although I would probably eliminate the brussels sprouts next time since they didn't provide much flavor. Also the noodles themselves were a bit too thick, as I mentioned in my last post. But overall, I thought the butternut squash provided a smooth and sweet counterpart to the salty pancetta and Pecorino Romano. P.S. In case you are wondering what the garnish is, I wanted to try frying some sage leaves that I had leftover from the ice cream of a few days ago. They looked nice, but I have to be honest, I didn't end up eating more than a bite!
- First roast the butternut squash: place in roasting pan with a little oil, roast at 400° for about 30 minutes or until soft. Cut into cubes and set aside.
- Meanwhile, start boiling a pot of water for the pasta, making sure to salt and oil the water. Put the pasta in when boiling, remove and strain when al dente.
- Heat olive oil in saucepan, then add pancetta and cook over medium heat until slightly browned. Remove only pancetta from saucepan and place on paper towels. Add brussels sprout leaves to saucepan with oil, toss to coat and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add butternut squash to pan with brussels sprouts and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then add cooked pasta and pancetta to pan and toss for a few minutes.
- Plate and grate a generous amount of cheese over the pasta.
Next up: Some holiday dishes!