Enjoy the Final Months of Winter With Rachael Ray’s Cozy, Creamy Pumpkin Carbonara

rachel ray in front of pumpkin carbonara


A shockingly easy five-star dish from the queen of 30-minute meals.

All of a sudden, the holidays are officially over. And whether you live for that annual ugly sweater party or are a confirmed Grinch, we can all agree on one thing: These first few months of the year are dreary. It’s an awkward time; after the hustle and bustle of endless feasting, most of us are fatigued by comfort foods — but on the other hand, we’re still living in a winter wonderland. The stormy weather that famously canceled flights throughout the end of December has decided to chill (sorry) for a while longer and it can be hard to find appropriate dinner inspo.

To hone in on that delicate balance between cozy-season decadence and veggie-heavy fare, we took to Instagram to check out our favorite chefs’ go-to winter meals. And naturally, Rachael Ray did not disappoint. Of course, the Food Network chef is famous for her accessible yet elevated recipes (there’s a reason she’s hopped on the caviar potato chip trend). So, we didn’t have to scroll far to find a homey pasta dish just creative enough to make anyone feel like a pro while still simple enough to be weeknight-ready. Enter this showstopper of a reliable staple meal: Pumpkin carbonara. Seriously, after one look at this lusciously creamy, photogenic take on an old Italian standby, you’ll immediately want to start boiling pasta water.

An important note: Ray’s Instagram version is slightly different from the recipe posted on Ray’s website. On Instagram, Ray advises adding a pinch of bloomed saffron. On the site, Ray recommends finishing the dish with toasted pumpkin seeds or hazelnuts. We love that the recipe is adaptable enough to suit different moods and regardless of these tweaks, both versions include deep, warm notes of sage. Plus, the hefty addition of squash adds nutty caramel tones while the white wine contributes a pop of acidity. You can use whatever pasta you’ve got in your pantry, but Ray loves Sfoglini Pasta’s Saffron Malloreddus — a gnocchetti infused with saffron. But if you opt to finish off a half-used box of Barilla, you’re still in for a treat.

Rachael Ray’s Pumpkin Carbonara Recipe

3 tbsp. EVOO
⅓ lb. pancetta, finely diced
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8-10 leaves sage, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup white wine
1 ½ cups pumpkin or butternut squash puree
1 lb. tagliatelle or linguine
1 cup (total) grated pecorino and Parmigiano-Reggiano
Handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
Toasted pumpkin seeds or hazelnuts (optional)
A pinch of bloomed saffron (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Heat a large, deep skillet and add the EVOO and pancetta. Cook until fat is rendered, 2 to 3 minutes, then remove to a plate with a slotted spoon. Stir in the shallots, garlic, and sage and season with pepper. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Stir in the pumpkin and reduce heat to low.

Salt the pasta water, add pasta, and cook for 1 minute less than the package directions. Scoop out 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water, then stir 1 cup of water into the puree. Turn off heat. Drain pasta. Toss cheeses, pasta, and 3/4 of the pancetta into pan with the pumpkin mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Add more pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce. Serve in shallow bowls and top with the remaining pancetta, parsley, and toasted pumpkin seeds or hazelnuts, if using.