Spaghetti Squash Carbonara with Pecorino Romano

pecorino romano carbonara

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara with Pecorino Romano cheese. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Secrest Photography; recipe courtesy of Caroline Fey of The City Kitchen)

If you’re ever invited to a seven-course Pecorino Romano-themed dinner party — especially at San Francisco’s Cookhouse, a glamorous culinary event venue located  upstairs from Vesuvio bar with a stunning view of the heart of North Beach — say YES! Robin and I were in this very situation a few months back, so my advice can be trusted.


First off, we learned a ton about Pecorino Romano. For example: this hard, salty sheep’s milk cheese was born over 2,000 years ago in the Roman region of Lazio. Today, 90% of all Pecorino Romano is produced in Sardinia, with indispensable assistance from an ancient (and fluffy!) creature called the Sardinian sheep. Since salt is a natural preservative, Pecorino was a perfect traveling food for Roman soldiers — and, many years later, for Italian immigrants sailing to the United States. Also a plus for warriors and travelers: sheep’s milk contains twice the amount of protein as cow’s milk, calcium in an easily digestible form, and vitamins B1, B2, PP, A and E. All good stuff to know, right?

For me, however, the most memorable and beneficial info-morsel was this: while I had been familiar with Pecker (as we lazy gourmets call it) grated into salads and pastas, our Italian party host told us that he used to eat it by the chunk at his grandmother’s house after school. Ever since I learned about this savory Sardinian custom, I’ve been doing the same thing myself. Now I always keep Pecorino on hand — not only to grate and melt and cook with, but also to snack on solo. Or with fruit, honey, jam, nuts, bread…

I was also interested to learn that while there are other “Romano cheeses” on the market, real Pecorino Romano must come from either Lazio, Grosseto, or Sardinia — and is produced according to highly controlled methods. Genuine Pecorino Romano will have the dotted name and logo stamped into the rind, as shown in the photo below.

official pecorino romano

Notice the official name and seal stamped into the rind. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Secrest Photography)

grated pecorino romano

Even though it has many other uses, Pecorino Romano cheese is still perfect for grating. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Secrest Photography)

One of the dishes we were served at our Pecker Party was this delicious Spaghetti Squash Carbonara, developed by Caroline Fey of The City Kitchen in San Francisco. Try it out — and be sure to get some extra cheese for after-school snacking.

Thanks to photographer Stephanie Secrest, who generously allowed us to share these gorgeous party photos with you.

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Spaghetti Squash Carbonara with Pecorino Romano

pecorino romano carbonara

Developed by Caroline Fey of The City Kitchen in San Francisco (www.thecitykitchensf.com).

Ingredients

For the squash

  • 1 large spaghetti squash (about 2 lbs.) halved and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper

For the carbonara

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ pound guanciale, cut into ½-inch x ¼-inch strips
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¼ to ½ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Cut squash in half and scrape out seeds. Drizzle flesh with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place cut-side down on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast until squash is tender when pierced with a knife (45-60 minutes).
  4. Prepare the ingredients for the sauce while the squash is cooking to ensure that the squash will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the squash is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the squash cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.
  5. When the squash is almost done roasting, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the guanciale and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes, or until crisp at the edges.
  6. Toss the garlic into the fat and sauté for less then 1 minute to soften. Turn off the heat if the squash isn’t ready yet.
  7. When roasted squash is cool enough to handle (but still hot), gently scrape squash with a fork to remove flesh in long strands and add to the pan. Toss for 2 minutes to coat in the pork fat.
  8. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, ¼ cup water, salt, and Pecorino Romano, stirring well to prevent lumps.
  9. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the squash, stirring quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble. (This step is done off the heat to ensure the eggs don’t scramble.)
  10. Thin out the sauce with a bit more water if needed, until the sauce is creamy and coats the squash well.
  11. Season with ground pepper.
  12. Mound the squash into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.
  13. Grate extra cheese over each bowl and serve.

 

 

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