Mezzi Rigatoni w/Pancetta and Roasted Butternut Squash

September 26, 2013 • Babies, Toddlers & Kids, Italian Food, Main Dish, Pasta, Sunday Dinner, Uncategorized


This recipe is going to surprise you with every bite! It epitomizes the endless rivalry between salty and sweet in classic Mediterranean style using pancetta and butternut squash.  Add to that a little brown sugar, pinch of nutmeg, fresh garlic,  shallot, chicken stock, and heavy cream and you’ve really got something everyone will love.   With each plate, I topped the pasta with freshly torn parsley, freshly grated Parmigianino Reggiano cheese and toasted breadcrumbs!! In essence, each bite will have an unexpected crunch to juxtapose the creaminess of the sauce.  All in all, this recipe is very Italian; make love, not war and let the rivalry of salty and sweet rest and enjoy a brief romance!!

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This recipe wraps up my week-long pasta tour with DELVERDE pasta and Lucini Italia’s Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  I have loved each and every one of the recipes this week, but this one won by unanimous vote last weekend at our dinner party. We hosted some dear friends and family to taste-test all three recipes and help me decide which to send into the DELVERDE Dish Your Blog contest.  Check back tomorrow in “Notes From The Kitchen” to learn more about the dinner party and view behind the scene pics.  Thank you all for your support!! Keep your fingers crossed and enjoy the rest of the recipe…



Before you peel the squash, cut off the top and bottom.  Take your time peeling the squash, mindful to take all of the skin off as well as any green that emerges beyond the skin.  All you want to see is vibrant orange!!


Using a spoon, scoop out all of the seeds.


Using your hands and a wooden spoon, be sure to coat the squash with brown sugar and olive oil…don’t forget the pinch of salt and fresh nutmeg, too! In my house, we  LOVE anything that sparkles, including this squash.  It looks like jewels with the sugar and oil!


When you ask your Italian butcher for pancetta, let him/her know you are planning to dice it in a sauce and they will slice it for you.


Then, when you get home, all you have to do it the dicing :)


Be sure to let the pancetta really crisp up before you add the garlic and shallots.  The flavor-locking key is in the crispiness!!! Then, add the garlic and shallots and remove from the heat as soon as you smell the aroma of garlic.


Turning your attention back to the squash, once you remove it from the oven, it’s time to puree.  Trust me, this is so quick and simple.  I like to use a simple hand blender.  To every 1 1/2 cups of squash, add 1/2 cup of stock and puree for a few seconds; that’s it!!




Finally, all of the ingredients are ready to come together.  Simply add the squash to the pancetta pot and stir, gently adding stock and cream.


I used DELVERDE Mezzi Rigatoni for this recipe.  I love the product and it’s the perfect accompaniment to this sauce!!




I diced up some day-old Italian bread and toasted it in the oven at 350 for 7 minutes with a drizzle of olive oil.  It makes great croutons and breadcrumbs all at once.   After they cooled, I placed the croutons in a plastic bad and crushed them into breadcrumbs.  Simple!

squash top 3

Top with the breadcrumbs, fresh parsley, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.  Drizzle with quality Italian olive oil to finish.  I used Lucini Italia’s Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil; It has excellent flavor!!

Mezzi Rigatoni w/Pancetta and Roasted Butternut Squash


  • 1 lb. DELVERDE Mezzi Rigatoni
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Lucini Italia Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling
  • 3 fresh slices of pancetta, diced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • bunch of fresh parsley
  • Parmigiano Reggiano for grating
  • 1/2 cup toasted breadcrumbs (see post)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In the meantime, peel and dice the butternut squash.

Place the diced squash on a baking pan and drizzle generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Freshly grate a pinch of nutmeg over the top of the squash.

Using your hands and a wooden spoon, toss the squash, being sure to coat evenly.

Place in the oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

While the squash roasts, crisp the pancetta over medium-low heat. I like to use my caste-iron enameled pot because it caramelizes the pancetta without it sticking to the surface, allowing all of the flavor to be absorbed into the sauce.

Once you have thoroughly crisped the pancetta, add shallots and garlic. As soon as you smell the aroma of garlic, remove the pan from the heat.

In a pasta pot, bring water to a boil and add salt and mezzi rigatoni. Cook until al dente, roughly 10 minutes.

By now, your squash should be nearly finished. Just to be sure, stick a fork into the diced squash. It should be very easy to do. At that point, you're ready to puree.

Using a hand blender, blend 1 1/2 cups squash with 1/2 cup stock. Then blend the another 1 1/2 cups squash and 1/2 cup chicken stock.

Turning back to the pancetta pot, turn the heat up to medium-low and add the squash puree.

Add remaining 1/2 cup stock and cream, stirring thoroughly.

Drain pasta and add to the sauce, combining with a wooden spoon.

Plate each dish, garnishing with freshly torn parsley, toasted breadcrumbs, and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Disclosure: “This recipe is posted as an entry in the Delverde DISH YOUR BLOG recipe contest to try to win a trip to NYC. Some entrants may have received free sample products in addition to the opportunity to compete for the prize.”

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22 Responses to Mezzi Rigatoni w/Pancetta and Roasted Butternut Squash

  1. I do not even know the way I ended up here, but I assumed this
    post used to be good. I do not recognize who you might be but certainly you are going to a famous blogger for those who are not already.

  2. Adri says:

    Che bel piatto! This looks great, and I bet the addition of brown sugar really lifted the sweetness and brought out the round flavors of the squash, one of my favorite vegetables. And where did you get that gorgeous pancetta? It is fabulous! Congratulations on a wonderful entry! Buona fortuna!

  3. Pavlena says:

    May I also add…Good Luck!! Although with a dish like this, not much is needed!! MY MOUTH IS WATERING AGAIN!!!!!!!!!

  4. Pavlena says:

    It comes with GREAT pleasure to admit that I not only had three servings of this dish (in one sitting), but that I will openly admit that I licked serving spoon while cleaning up, when no one was looking!! Moreover…I will do the same thing all over again the next time I make this dish!! Kali Orexi to all!!

  5. Connie says:

    So sorry I missed the tasting this weekend – but everything looked fanastic and by the sound of everyone elses comments, it all tasted as good as it looked. I will make it next time…Also the new photos of the family are wonderful, God Bless you and your family :)

  6. Chris says:

    I love that you always use the freshest looking ingredients…the presentation alone makes my mouth water. This is dinner tonight!!

  7. meemers says:

    i am sending this one to kyle at school. 2 things he loves…cooking and italian food. simple and exceptionally tasty.

  8. Frank says:

    This is a favorite of mine!! Great flavors and presentation. I love the breadcrumbs on the top!

  9. Cara says:

    This one was amazing! I am so proud of you. I still tasted the sweet and salty pasta the next day. I cannot wait to make this. You almost has another guest for try birthday dinner!!!

  10. catherine says:

    It was indeed a delicious blend between salty and sweet. The creaminess of the sauce was very smooth over the pasta. Scrumptious!!!! :)

  11. Dolly Whelan says:

    This was a very tasty dish of pasta!!!

    • Thank you! Let me know if you try to make it at home. I bet the little ones would love it for lunch one day!

    • Bella says:

      Facebook on amerikkalainen keksintö, toki tiedät, ettei jenkkilässä saa näkyä edes pientä vilaustakaan nännistä tai edes vauvan peppuvakoa. Kyse ei siis ole mistään näädistä, vaan siitä, että sinulla on julkinen profiili, jonka kuka tahansa alaikäinen voi nähdä. Nänneineen päivineen. Ei tee hyvää lapsen tasapainoiselle henkiselle kasvulle ja kehitykselle katsella sinun &#2¤10;nÃ2yttäviä⁚ ja “pornahtavia” kuviasi. Oletko eri mieltä?

  12. Anita says:

    Nicole….I got to taste the pasta that Cara brought home….congratulations…it was wonderful! You are a star!!!!!

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