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8 & $20 Recipe: Winter Squash Pasta and Beaujolais

Pancetta, ricotta and kabocha squash make a perfect combination for a winter night

Jennifer Fiedler
Posted: November 27, 2012

Eight ingredients. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a weeknight feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.

When it comes to making “authentic” pasta, there are plenty of rules: which shapes go with which sauces, how many ingredients a dish can have, “correct” regional variations. This recipe for pasta with roasted kabocha—a Japanese variety of winter squash—may not fit any traditional template, but still works for an easy weeknight dinner.

Here, the sweetness of the kabocha is tempered by the savory and earthy qualities of the pancetta and kale, while ricotta adds a nice richness and weight.

The easy route with wine pairings is to match regional cooking to regional wines, but for this pasta, the non-traditional combination of ingredients means the options for wine pairings are wide open.

If you’d like a white, a Rhône wine matched nicely with the squash, and the weight of the wine was a good balance with the brown butter sauce. For a red, a cru Beaujolais was our favorite as it highlighted the pancetta and brought out the earthy qualities of the squash instead of the sweetness.

Brown-Butter Penne Pasta with Kabocha Squash, Pancetta, Kale and Ricotta

Pair with a cru Beaujolais such as Georges Duboeuf Moulin-a-Vent Domaine de la Vigne Romaine 2010 (88 points, $16)

Total time: 45 minutes

Approximate food cost:$28

  • 1 medium kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and diced into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 bunch green kale, stemmed
  • 8 slices pancetta
  • 12 ounces dried penne pasta
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces whole milk ricotta
  • 4 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Toss the squash cubes with cooking oil, season with salt, place them on a sheet pan and roast until they are done, stirring occasionally, around 30 minutes.

2. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil, then add the kale and cook until done, around 4 minutes, then strain and reserve.

3. In a medium sauté pan, crisp the pancetta over medium-high heat, then remove and reserve.

4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pasta and cook to the manufacturer’s instructions. Strain and reserve.

5. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat and cook until slightly browned. Add the squash pieces, kale and pasta and cook until heated through. Divide the pasta and squash mixture into four bowls and top with crumbled pancetta, a few spoonfuls of ricotta and toasted pine nuts. Serves 4.

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