Bucatini, a pasta that is slightly thicker than spaghetti and has a hollow center, is a good choice for this hearty autumn pasta. If you’d prefer not to fry the sage leaves, you can omit them and garnish the pasta with a bit of chopped fresh sage instead.
Bucatini with Bacon, Kale and Winter Squash
For the fried sage (optional):
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) olive oil
8 to 10 fresh sage leaves
1 butternut, kabocha or calabaza squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
12 oz. (375 g) bucatini
3 oz. (90 g) bacon, diced
1 large shallot, sliced into 1/8-inch (3-mm) rings
1 bunch Tuscan kale, stemmed and leaves cut crosswise into 1/4-inch (3-mm) ribbons
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) (2 oz./60 g) unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) white wine
2 fresh sage leaves
1 Tbs. heavy cream
2 Tbs. pine nuts, toasted
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving
To fry the sage leaves, in a small sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil until shimmering.
Carefully drop the sage leaves, a few at a time, into the oil. They will sizzle and crisp very quickly, in 15 to 30 seconds. Using a fork or small skimmer, transfer the fried sage leaves to a paper towel–lined plate.
On a baking sheet, toss the squash with the olive oil, 2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Spread the squash in a single layer and roast until tender, about 25 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, in a sauté pan large enough to accommodate the pasta and squash later, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate, leaving the bacon fat in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the shallot to the pan and cook until translucent and tender, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium, add the kale, 1/2 tsp. salt and 2 Tbs. water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is wilted, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.
In the same pan, warm the butter until melted. Add the garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper, and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and sage leaves to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the liquid is slightly thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove the sage leaves from the pan and discard. Stir in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the squash, bacon, kale mixture and cooked pasta to the pan and toss until well combined, warming the mixture over medium heat if the vegetables are no longer warm.
Transfer the pasta to a serving dish and garnish with the fried sage and pine nuts. Serve immediately, passing the cheese at the table. Serves 4.
Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen