Here’s a spaghetti recipe that’s not only easy to make, it’s wholesome, comforting, and perfect for the cool autumn season (in fact in any other season too). Similar to the pasta alla gricia, this pasta recipe takes a spin with crispy guanciale (superlike!) and a spaghetti sauce recipe using pumpkin as the key ingredient.
Ingredients used are very simple. You will only need spaghetti, purple onion, pecorino cheese, pumpkin, guanciale, and seasonings using salt and black pepper.
Pumpkin and squash can be used interchangeably as substitutes, personally I prefer the butternut squash but in this recipe and where I am right now, there is only one type available in the supermarket. Both come from the same fruit family and grow on a vine but there’s a difference between the nutrition values such as the amount of calories, protein and carbohydrates. Pumpkin has lesser calories and carbohydrates than squash and more protein.
In Singapore, the guanciale is not as common found as the pancetta or other bacons. The guanciale is an Italian cured meat prepared from pork jowl or cheeks. The name is derived from guancia, which means ‘cheek’ in Italian. This is a key ingredient in classic Italian pasta spaghetti carbonara and spaghetti all’amatriciana. I fell in love with this meat, it’s not only reasonably priced (not in Singapore but in Italy), and also readily available in supermarkets big and small. When cooked, it released lots of naturally flavoured oil which I used to cook pasta and even fried rice!
If the guanciale is not available, a good substitute is the pancetta. Both are cured meat and are salty and fatty. The main difference between the two is in the cut of pork and the spices used to cure each meat. The pancetta is pork belly cured in salt and pepper. While the guanciale is pork jowl or cheek) cured in salt and spices such as pepper, sage, rosemary, and garlic. Personally I prefer the guanciale compared to pancetta.
Pasta Recipe | Spaghetti with Pumpkin Cream, Pecorino & Crispy Guanciale
- 400 g Pumpkin can substitute with squash
- 200 g Guanciale
- 1/2 Purple onion
- Spaghetti for 2 persons
- Grated pecorino cheese season to taste
- Black pepper season to taste
- Salt season to taste
- Water to cook pasta and pumpkin
- Peel & chop pumpkin into small pieces (as small as possible)
- Peel & dice onion
- Slice the guanciale
- Boil a pot of water. Once water boils, add spaghetti and salt (I added about 1 tsp for a portion of pasta for two persons). Cook spaghetti until al dente.
- Cook guanciale over low heat in a pan. The guanciale will slowly turn crispy and release a lot of oil. Once crispy, remove from pan and set aside.
- Remove the oil from the guanciale, leaving about 2 tbsp of the oil in the same pan. Add diced onion and sauté over low medium heat until caramelised.
- Add chopped pumpkin and cook it for about 5-8 minutes or until it softens.
- Add 100ml of water, just enough to cover about 1/3 of the pumpkin. Take note not to add too much water as the purée might turn too watery. Season with salt and black pepper, note that the spaghetti is also salty.
- Once pumpkin turns soft (if the pumpkin can be smashed with a fork, it's ready), use a hand blender and purée into a creamy texture.
- Serve the pumpkin cream over spaghetti, top with crispy guanciale and pecorino cheese. Buon appetito!