1 Calculating the Costs: Winter Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage | The Billfold

Calculating the Costs: Winter Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage

Okay, so this recipe is from Bon Appétit, and I know the last time I did this the recipe was also from Bon Appétit, but I’m a subscriber and just got their February issue, so here we are.

Butternut squash is something I only eat during the winter season, which is why I was drawn to this particular recipe. Also you can’t go wrong with anything involving pasta and pancetta. I also liked that the butternut squash sauce was creamy without the need to have any actual cream in it, which made it feel less heavy.

The cost breakdown:

• 2 tablespoons olive oil (from my big bottle, so, about 10 cents)
• 4 oz. pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped (a quarter pound from my deli was about $3)
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage ($2 for a package)
• 1 2-lb. kabocha or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into ½” pieces (about 3 cups) ($2.10; you can buy pre-chopped for more, but it so much cheaper to peel and chop our own)
• 1 small onion, chopped (50 cents)
• 2 cloves garlic chopped (10 cents)
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (negligible cost)
• 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (from my freezer, maybe about $1)
• 12 oz. fettucine or linguine ($3.29 for a package)
• ¼ cup finely grated Pecorino, plus shaved for serving ($4)

The total cost of this recipe was $16.09 and made about three servings (Bon Appétit said four, but I was real about how much I wanted to eat), so it was about $5.36 per meal. I still have a bunch of sage and Pecorino, so I’m figuring what I should do with it.

Bon Appétit on the left, and mine on the right:

Verdict: The sauce was basically a butternut squash puree that you turn into a sauce using some of the cooking water from the pasta combined with the Pecorino, so halfway through the process, I was thinking, “Am I making butternut squash soup?” In fact, Bon Appétit said that you could use any leftover puree as a soup. It was almost like dumping some pasta into a soup? I likely won’t be making this again, though I thought it was a fine thing to have for dinner.


Top Photo By: F. Deventhal


11 Comments / Post A Comment

ATF (#4,229)

Ha. Pre-peeled and chopped butternut squash is one of the few things I actually indulge in. Even with the microwave trick of nuking it for a few minutes to make peeling/cutting easier, I still loathe it.

That said I have been eager to try out this recipe, so I’m glad you did. I don’t know if your review has tipped it into the ‘will make’ category yet. :\

ATF (#4,229)

@ATF I think I would add more salt, double the garlic, and use a smokey thick cut bacon instead of the pancetta. I’d also add a veggie of some sort. Maybe asparagus. Possibly roast it first.

OllyOlly (#669)

@ATF I nicked the tip of my thumb trying to slice a butternut squash in half. I have not cut one up since. Down with cutting squash I say.

nell (#4,295)

@ATF yesss yep, pre-chopped is like $2.50 at trader joe’s and that is well worth the emotional pain and suffering it saves, imo

Mike Dang (#2)

You guys, I love peeling and chopping. I feel like if I weren’t the kind of person who liked to peel and chop I would never cook.

j a y (#3,935)

@Mike Dang Me too, but I got complacent once and was watching TV and chopping fast and man did I ever hurt myself. /toostupidforlife

This recipe looks like it lacked some richness.

erinep (#4,236)

I made last week’s recipe and LOVED it. Thank you for the suggestion Mike! We already had all the ingredients on hand except for the harissa, which I could only find in a jar for $8. More than I’d like to pay but it was the only “new” cost to making it. It’ll keep long enough for us to come back around to making it again in a month or so.

Chris H. (#5,880)

For the leftover sage/pecorino: I use sage in a simple butter/olive oil sauce fairly often, in conjunction with fresh, pre-packaged ravioli from Trader Joe’s that I buy because they’re pretty cheap (around $3 I think?) and I can make them quickly when I get home from my restaurant job late at night. You could do this with almost any pasta, though.

1) Bring some salted water to a boil in a small-medium sized pot.
2) While that’s going on, combine 2 Tbsp. of butter and a little olive oil in a skillet on low heat.
3) Once the butter is melted, add a pinch salt, about 1 tbsp of black pepper and 6-12 of the sage leaves
4) Once the water is boiling, cook the ravioli. This should only take a couple minutes if you’re using fresh pasta.
5) Transfer the ravioli to the skillet with a spoon, making sure to transfer a little bit of the pasta water along with them.
6) Add some grated pecorino (I use a lot but this is really to taste) to the skillet and stir the ravioli constantly while everything sautés for a minute or two. You could also use parmesan, grana padano or any other hard, Italian cheese.
7) Transfer the ravioli to a plate – maybe use a slotted spoon to avoid having too much oil on the plate.
8) Eat!

lindseykai (#1,544)

This is not a carbonara (there’s no egg in the sauce), but the real deal is also cheap and easy. I sometimes even do it without bacon when I’m feeling especially cheap/lazy. Just beat an egg with a 1/4 cup of grated parmesan and toss it with your drained but still hot pasta. Boom. Sauce.

shannowhamo (#845)

@lindseykai Well, isn’t the idea that it’s a faux carbonara with the butternut squash acting in place of a creamy, eggy sauce? But yeah, I would think that the eggs would actually be just as a cheap maybe cheaper and more protein-filled.

ellabella (#1,480)

I made last week’s recipe too Mike! I think it cost like $35? For not halving the recipe? I know we spent $18 on chicken (they didn’t have thighs—too many Bon Appetit readers???—so we went with 4 drumsticks, 2 breasts, and 2 legs) at the bougie Cobble Hill Union Market, so, they were very happy chickens? I also think chickpeas were more like 2-something a can.

I cook meat probably less than once a month, so I don’t feel too bad about spending that much on chicken. I also do like supporting local/organic/humane/sustainable agriculture when practicable and somewhat arbitrarily.

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