Bucatini with Butternut Squash Cream Sauce, Prosciutto and Sage


This week was nothing short of nuts. First, I got a kidney infection. Then 14 cheeses arrived at my door. Both made my cry. As something of a cheese-fanatic, receiving cheese in the mail is somewhat of a dream. BelGioioso Cheese Inc. sent me a dreamy package containing 7 of their popular cheeses. I used their American Grana to make this bucatini dish, which is now featured on culture: the word on cheese’s website.

Serves 4


  • ½ cup olive oil, divided
  • ½ tablespoon butter
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ of a yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 8 slices prosciutto
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup half and half or heavy cream
  • ½ cup BelGioioso American Grana, grated, plus more for sprinkling
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • ¾ pound dry bucatini
  • 8 sage leaves
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With the skin still on, loosely wrap the garlic loosely with foil and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Roast for 40 minutes until soft.

Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil and ½ tablespoon of butter over medium high heat in a sauté pan (I use a cast iron pan). Add sliced onions and sprinkle with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir frequently until the onions begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and stir occasionally until they turn a deep golden color and are caramelized, about another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the cubes of butternut squash in a glass 9×13 pan. Drizzle with 1/8 cup olive oil and toss to combine. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of both salt and pepper. Cook until fork tender, about 30 minutes.

Raise oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Lay 8 slices of prosciutto on a foil-lined baking sheet. Crisp in the oven for about 15 minutes, flipping once. Set aside.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil.

For the sauce, squeeze the garlic out of their peels into a blender. Add half of the cooked squash and all of the caramelized onions. Then add chicken broth, cream, cheese and nutmeg. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add bucatini into the boiling water, cook until al dente. Drain. Return to pot and toss with sauce and reserved cubes of squash.

In the same pan you used to cook the onions, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot, lay the sage leaves into the oil. Cook for about 30 seconds, flipping once. Cool on a paper towel.

To assemble, use tongs to move noodles to individual plates, letting excess sauce drip off back into the pot. Crumble the prosciutto over the noodles. Top with two sage leaves each. Sprinkle with extra grated American Grana and pepper. Serve immediately.

Lighter Spaghetti Carbonara


I remember eating carbonara for the first time with my host family in Italy. Spaghetti noodles were tossed with a creamy, eggy sauce and speckled with pork pieces. I tried to convey my love for it to my host mom, but really all I could come up with was “mi piache, mi piache…” (I like, I like). We had it again several times in those two weeks.

Later, back in Bellingham, David, who was also in Italy and looks exactly like the Statue of David in Florence, charmed us with his take on carbonara. I think he asked our host mom to show him how to make it…or maybe it was his girlfriend’s Italian mother who showed him. It was one of those. If you knew David, you’d take one look at his floppy blonde hair, worn Birkenstocks and single pair of pants (brown corduroys) and say, no way can he pull off this finicky dish. On the contrary, I like his best. Last year on my birthday I had one request: that he make us a heaping pile of my favorite pasta. With a toss of cheese, whipping of eggs and dose of bacon fat, it was a hit. Another thing that’s important to know about David is that he loves bacon fat. He always keeps a necessary mason jar of it next to the stove to throw into whatever he is making (I try not to think about this when I am eating his french toast).

David’s most recent birthday

Finally, I made my own carbonara, adapting a “lighter” recipe from Cooks Illustrated. The long editorial introduction explained that this recipe is lighter because it doesn’t have heavy cream in it. I didn’t realize any carbonara had heavy cream in it; it’s unnecessary. The recipe came together nicely with my homemade spaghetti noodles and local, thick cut pepper bacon. I personally would have liked it a tiny bit saucier, but do as the Italians do and appreciate the simplicity of great pasta lightly coated in sauce.

*Note: Don’t ignore the simple, seemingly frivolous suggestions like using 2 quarts of water exactly. It really does make a difference by making the pasta water more starchy to thicken the sauce. Also, read the instructions through because you should work quickly when it comes time to put the pasta water into the egg mixture and the egg mixture over the noodles. The hot noodles and water cook the raw egg.

Makes 4-6 servings/Adapted from Cooks Illustrated


  • 8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used pepper bacon)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons shallot, minced
  • 2 1/2 ounces Pecorino Romano, grated (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti (I may use a little less next time)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a dutch oven. Set a colander in a large bowl (to catch the pasta water) and set aside.

Bring bacon and water to simmer in a 10-inch nonstick pan over medium heat. (Cooks Illustrated said this results in chewier, rather than crunchy, bacon.) Cook until the water evaporates and the bacon begins to sizzle, about 10 minutes. Continue to cook until the fat renders and begins to brown, another 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds.

Strain bacon through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, measure out 1 tablespoon of fat and place in a medium bowl. To the fat, whisk in the eggs and yolk, pepper and cheese.

Meanwhile, add the spaghetti and salt to the pot of boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain spaghetti into colander. Measure out 1 cup of pasta water and discard the rest. Then, put the spaghetti back into the bowl that was just heated by the pasta water.

Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of the pasta water into the egg and cheese mixture. Don’t put it all in at once or the eggs may scramble. Then pour this mixture over the spaghetti and toss to coat. Add the bacon mixture and toss again. Add more of the remaining pasta water if needed. Also check for seasoning. Depending on your tastes, the salty bite of the cheese may be enough. For me, it wasn’t.