I must give credit where credit is due. The inspiration for this recipe in our house came from my husband. Like a lot of people, we try to limit the amount of refined carbs we eat, so we’re often looking for alternatives to favorite dishes. When he suggested that we try replacing the pasta typically used for carbonara with spaghetti squash, it seemed like a great idea.
Less obvious was how much we would actually like it—we’ve enjoyed it many times since. Though the recipe trims the carbs, it does not at all skimp on decadence.
One of the beautiful things about carbonara is its simplicity. Comprising so few ingredients, it really sings when made with the highest quality components you can find. Splurging on proper Parmesan cheese, for example, is completely worthwhile, as it is going to be in the spotlight.
There are several ways to cook spaghetti squash, some faster than the one given here. Nonetheless, I prefer to roast it in the oven, a technique that helps bring out an attractive nutty note in the squash. It’s also very hands-off.
You can use the squash halves themselves as mix bowls, which means one less dish to wash later. Moreover, I find that tossing the egg-cheese mixture directly in the hot squash better preserves the heat needed for cooking the eggs. (If you’re concerned about using raw eggs, you can purchase pasteurized eggs.) Serving it in the gourds also makes for a fun presentation.
When we have this dish, we usually go straight for a bottle of Chardonnay, typically from the New World. We’ve had it with ripe, unoaked versions as well as lightly oaked examples, and both work quite well. Feel free to proceed directly to your favorite bottle.
On this occasion, I thought I’d experiment with additional options. I decided to open a Portuguese white blend of native grapes from the Alentejo region, as these wines tend to have a ripeness and texture similar to New World Chardonnay. I also opted for a rosé from Italy’s Puglia region made from Negroamaro, which often exhibits a little more structure than most rosés.
Both wines made solid matches, working with the food in different ways. With notes of cherry, white peach and citrus, and hints of stone, the rosé was a refreshing companion. The wine even became juicier when enjoyed with the food.
As expected, the Portuguese white blend had ripe fruit and a round texture that matched the creamy texture of the food. It showed notes of ripe apple and lemon curd, along with vanilla accents and a touch of spice that resonated with the pepper and bacon. This bottling edged out the rosé in terms of bringing added complexity to the pairing, but when it comes to pleasure, it’s really a question of what style you’re in the mood for.
Roasted Spaghetti Squash Carbonara
Pair with a ripe, creamy Portuguese white blend such as Herdade do Esporão Alentejo White Reserva 2017 (90 points, $20) or a structured rosé such as Tormaresca Salento Rosato Calafuria 2017 (89, $15) from Italy.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 50 to 65 minutes
Total cooking time: 65 to 80 minutes
Approximate food costs: $11
- 1 large spaghetti squash, halved and seeds removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter, or as needed
- 4 ounces chopped pancetta or bacon
- 1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks, brought up to room temperature
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
2. Drizzle squash halves with olive oil (or butter) and season with salt and pepper. Place the squash halves cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the squash is tender and easily pierced with a knife.
3. While the squash is roasting in the oven, place pancetta or bacon in large frying pan and cook over medium heat until crispy. (Alternatively, you could cook the pancetta in the oven on a rimmed baking sheet. This might take a few more minutes than on the stovetop.)
4. Whisk together the egg and egg yolks, then whisk in the parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper.
5. Remove the squash from the oven and carefully flip over. Use a fork to gently scrape the flesh of the squash to separate it into spaghettilike strands. Divide the egg mixture and pour over the two halves of the squash; add half of the pancetta to each and toss to combine.
6. Serve in the squash halves or separate the spaghetti squash into bowls, with additional parmesan on the side. Serves 4.