Pasta with Butternut Squash, Chilies and Saffron

A citrus-saffron sauce showcases guanciale in this butternut squash and chili pasta.


  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into small, bite-size pieces
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling, plus 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 pound guanciale (pork cheeks), pancetta or prosciutto ends, chopped
  • 1 fresh red chili pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons citrus zest, orange or lemon
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 healthy pinch saffron threads (24-30 threads)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pound egg tagliatelle or other long-cut pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • Flat leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish


Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.

Arrange the butternut squash on a baking sheet and dress with just enough EVOO to coat. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Roast for 20 minutes, until tender and golden at edges.

Meanwhile, place a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta.

Start the sauce: In a deep skillet over medium to medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons EVOO, two turns of the pan. Add the pork and render for 2-3 minutes. Add the chili pepper, onion, garlic, thyme, citrus zest, salt and pepper and soften, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cook for 1 minute, then add the wine, saffron and stock. Reduce for 10-12 minutes.

Cook the pasta to al dente in salted water, reserving a ladle of the starchy cooking water before draining.

Melt the butter into the sauce, then add the drained pasta to the sauce along with squash and toss to combine. Add the starchy cooking water if necessary; sprinkle in some cheese and top each serving with additional cheese and parsley to garnish.

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