Roasted Winter Squash Carbonara

squash bake

Some evenings, I just want comfort food. And some evenings, I just don’t feel like cooking. On those evenings, I turn to my toaster oven to do most of the work for me. Many oven baked dishes seem like they take a lot of minutes to make, but 95% of those are hands-off, giving you time to work on projects/catch up with the people in your life/have a glass of wine/just veg out and breathe instead of standing over the stove for another hour or two after a long day.

A good carbonara sauce is one of those brilliantly easy comfort food flavor bases that makes anything you mix it with taste pretty spectacular. In this case, the resulting dish ends up being something between a gratin, a quiche, and a casserole. This recipe works best with spaghetti squash for obvious reasons (hello PASTA!), but you can sub in almost any mild flavored winter gourd you have on hand. Same goes for how much garlic it calls for (I always add more, but you could do less or use sautéed onions or shallots instead) and the type of cheese (I recommend parmesan or pecorino, but any sort of hard drier cheese will work just fine… I generally tend to sub in aged gouda because that’s what is usually in my fridge.)

Roasted Winter Squash Carbonara
1 medium spaghetti squash or other winter squash (1-2lbs)
3-4 thick slices of bacon, diced
6 cloves of garlic
2 large eggs
1/4-1/2c aged cheese such as parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 teaspoons of parsley, chopped

Heat the oven to 350°F. Carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise with a sharp chef’s knife. Using a spoon, scrape the seeds out and discard (or save for roasting or growing more squash!) Coat squash and garlic cloves with olive oil, then put garlic on sheet pan with the squash face down on top of it. Roast for 30 minutes or until face edges begin to brown, then turn squash face up, move garlic into each half, and roast for 15-30 minutes more. You’ll know the squash is ready when you can effortlessly pierce the flesh with a fork. (If you’re using a spaghetti squash, the strands should easily separate when you drag a fork across the inside flesh.)

While the squash is finishing up in the oven, cook the bacon in a skillet on the stove over medium heat until it just begins to crisp. Remove from heat and set aside. Whisk eggs, cheese, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl. Scrape squash from skin, being careful to keep the shell intact. If you tear it, don’t worry: you may only end up needing one half to stuff it back into, so you have two shots here. And if you tear both halves, that’s okay too- you’ll just need a pan or dish to bake it in instead. (At this point you may also want to lightly chop or mash what you’ve roasted if you’re not using spaghetti squash, as well as chop up the roasted garlic for better distribution when you mix it all together.)

Combine squash with egg mixture, then fold in garlic, bacon, and one teaspoon of parsley. Stuff mixture back into squash shells (or pour into oven safe dish), then top with more cheese if desired. Bake at 350​°F for another 30-45 minutes, or until cheese is melted and top is golden. Top with more parsley and freshly cracked black pepper if desired..