Crutches make for a rather unfortunate Halloween prop.

I mean….they do open up the door to a lot of costume possibilities.

An injured marathon runner.  An injured Olympic athlete.  An injured NBA player.

But let’s be honest.  No one wants to make out with the injured anything when they can make out with the functionally bipedal sexy “insert noun here”.


I imagine that must be why my roommates stole my crutches from me last Friday and told me I needed to learn to walk again.


(Also, they really wanted us to be a trio of insects for Halloween – ladybug, bumblebee, and butterfly.  And nothing says sad and celibate like a butterfly with a crutch.)

So. I did.

It took a little getting used to.  There was definitely some kind of learning curve.  But I am now officially walking again.  (With a minor/barely noticeable limp and little to no pain.)

The first place I walked?  To the gym.

Apparently my version of “no exercise” is going to pilates.  Daily.

My legs might be losing muscle mass at a rapidly alarming rate.  But I intend to have some seriously rockin’ core strength when this is all said and done.

Plus, um. My butterfly costume involves me wearing a dress.  And I’d like that dress to not cling in weird places when I put it on tonight.  Know what I’m sayin’?

The only way I know of to build core strength is to build core muscles.  And to build core muscles you need protein.  And you know what has protein?  Bacon.  Vegetarian tempeh bacon to precise.  While I absolutely would not say it tastes like the real thing, what it does taste like is smoky salty deliciousness.  Which just happens to pair perfectly with the subtle sweetness of winter squash.

So when I eat this at every meal for the next 24 hours…I’m gonna tell myself I did it in the name of muscle growth.  And not because it’s so addictively deliciously that I just couldn’t stop.

That’s some good logic, right there.

GIVEAWAY WINNER – According to the random integer generator, the Eggland’s Best giveaway winner is commenter number 25 – Michelle of Ms. Enplace!  Michelle, I’ll be emailing you!


Butternut Squash Carbonara
Serves 4, adapted from Closet Cooking


  • 1 medium butternut or kabocha squash, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 8 oz pasta
  • 4 slices tempeh bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lb baby spinach
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp almond milk or regular milk or heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Roast squash on a foil-lined pan for 30-40 minutes or until tender.
  2. Set up a pot of salted water to boil.  Begin to cook the pasta.
  3. While the water is heating, spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and cook the bacon.  Add the garlic and some black pepper.  Add the cooked squash to the pan.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the egg yolks, almond milk, and parmesan cheese.
  5. Place the spinach in the bottom of a colander.  Reserve some of the water from the pasta and then strain over the spinach so that the hot water cooks the spinach as you’re draining.  Add the pasta and spinach to the pan and toss.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat.  Use the pasta water to temper the egg mixture, pouring in a 3 tbsp, one at a time, and stirring vigorously while adding so the eggs don’t cook.  Pour the tempered egg mixture into the pan and toss to coat.  Add a bit of the pasta water until sauce has the desired consistency.
  7. Serve with parmesan cheese.

I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted next week by Ruth of Once Upon A Feast!


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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88 Responses to Vegetarian Butternut Squash Carbonara

  1. Sanjeeta kk says:

    Butternut squash with pasta..what a lovely combo! And spinach too, would love to make my veggie version.

  2. I love coming across distinctive pastas, especially for the fall and winter when I can’t have my regular pesto and tomatoes. What type of pasta is that, it looks perfect for holding tons of sauce.

  3. OohLookBel says:

    Tempeh bacon, what will they think of next? I wish we had that here. You need to get more of that protein into you so you can hop to the between houses during Halloween ;o)

  4. Sam says:

    Butternut squash? Tempeh bacon? I’m in.

    And I won’t give you my “women’s Halloween costumes” rant. But congrats on walking without the crutches.

  5. Foodycat says:

    Congratulations on the learning to walk again, but you did miss the opportunity of being Jesse J in a leg cast for Halloween!

  6. Kim says:

    I hope you have a lot of fun at your Halloween party tonight!

    The recipe looks fantastic and I’d definitely be interested to try the tempeh bacon.

    Congrats to my girl Michelle on winning the EB giveaway!

  7. The pasta carbonara look delicious! And with that squash, it’s very timely for the season!

  8. Oh nuts, I thought you were going to have a tempeh bacon recipe…. 😛

    You are definitely a trooper, Joanne! With tasty food like this, you will be rocking it in no time. Just don’t overdo it and injure something else! *hug*

  9. girlichef says:

    This veggie carbonara sounds really tasty…and it beautiful to look at, for sure! Have fun…I want to see bug pictures 😀

  10. I’ve never tried butternut squash! Too bad we can’t party together–a fairy and butterfly would be great!

  11. Joanne says:

    They say some of the joy of eating comes from the visual of the food. And it’s true, I just love the gold and green colors of this recipe’s food today!

  12. Sarah says:

    i love the flavors in this dish, joanne! though i think my husband would flip if i used fake bacon. 🙂

  13. You are going to make a hot butterfly tonight and I am so proud of you for getting off your crutches! Delicious as usual:)

  14. Pam says:

    Yes, a butterfly with crutches would be a sad thing! I’m going to make this, but with regular bacon.

  15. I’ve never tried vege bacon. I wonder why your roommates borrowed (or stole?) your crutches. Back to bacon, vegetarians choose to eat this because they don’t want to eat meat. So why call it bacon, why not smoked salted tempeh?

  16. oh fun fun fun fun fun! Did I say fun? It looks so delicious with the fresh yummy squash and the vege bacon sounds awesome with it.

  17. Eden says:

    Dude, REST! I didn’t exercise at all for four months straight and I didn’t look like the grimace. Plus, I’m not purple, that helped.

  18. Ranjani says:

    Such beautiful colors! (and I’m also going to be an insect for Halloween)

  19. Danielle says:

    This looks great! I love fall and the fall flavors.

  20. I am loving the butternut squash/pasta/bacon combo. (I’ll just ignore the tempeh part… 😉
    And I will be the first to promote your new winter squash cookbook, which I expect to be on the shelves for Christmas.
    Hope you are feeling better!

  21. Shannon says:

    sounds fabulous!! and eat up, you’ll need your strength for all that pilates 🙂

  22. Mmmmmm that looks just fabulous, Joanne! Gorgeous colors. Kevin’s got an amazing blog, right?
    Glad to hear you’re doing better and getting back on track! You go girl! Have a fantastic Halloween weekend! 🙂


  23. Great post! I didn’t realize you need protein to build the core. I knew it was for building muscle, but I didn’t realize it helped the core! The recipe looks awesome!!! I just love butternut squash!!

  24. Jenna says:

    I’m curious about this tempeh bacon now.
    And you should post pics of the trio of insects! I love your descriptions . . . but a little visual would be just the thing. =) I know you don’t normally post pictures of yourself, but . . . please? For the sake of Halloween?

  25. Great looking pasta Joanne. I was really looking forward to going out for halloween. My husband and I we’re going to go as Burt and Mary Poppins! But alas I work all weekend…so though you may not be the most limber of butterflies…at least you get to go. Pasta looks awesome. I’m never tried tempeh bacon. I’ll have to pick some up. Afterall salty smoky awesomeness kinda sells it for me.

  26. MM says:

    Thanks again for the giveaway…yay!

    This is an awesome bowl of pasta–really beautiful.

    Hope you have fun at the party and your dress works in all the right places.

  27. Awesome combo and sounds so yummy!

  28. Mary says:

    Your dish has enormous eye appeal and I’m sure, because it’s yours, that it is delicious. I hope you aren’t pushing too hard. Doctors are poor patients :-). Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  29. Torwen says:

    What a feast for eyes! Very nice recipe and beautiful photo 🙂

  30. Veronica says:

    Ohhhh, *drool.* This is calling me! Saved to Pinterest fo sho. I really hope you are plannign to share a pic of your crutchless self in the butterfly costume! Pretty Please???

  31. I agree it sounds like such an awesome combo!! Really looks delicious!

  32. Im more of a meat person, but this dish does look tasty. Richard from Amish Stories

  33. bellini says:

    This gives me an idea, I would give my daughter crutches to keep the wolves at bay:D But pasta will cure all.

  34. Oh my. Great dish! Butternut squash and spinach are two of my favorite veggies!!

  35. Cara says:

    You are sexy, with or without crutch. Just like this pasta is sexier, with or without real bacon. In fact,it’s probably sexier without.

  36. Pam says:

    Very good logic – it looks really tasty!

    Have fun in your butterfly costume. Congrats on walking.

  37. kankana says:

    That pasta would be so warm and comforting. Love the gorgeous pumpkin color too!

  38. debbie says:

    Oh what a great recipe. I just love butternut squash and this is such a good way to have it. Never thought to pair it with pasta!!

  39. Amy says:

    I just got home from a full day school field trip. 120 kids. All I can think about is Tylenol…and why I don’t drink. Wish a bowl of this was waiting for me. With REAL BACON!! I need the good stuff.

  40. Candace says:

    Oh my goodness. I am so making this with the real stuff though. Yum!

  41. Carolyn Jung says:

    I think the right person WOULD make out with someone on crutches. A sweet, caring guy would. Yeah, they’re hard to come by at times. But they are out there. Maybe in Halloween costumes with a fake cast on? Hey, ya never know. 😉

  42. Jeanette says:

    Glad to hear you’re back on your feet. I’ve never tried tempeh bacon, not even sure I’ve ever seen it, but will keep my eyes peeled.

  43. Wow — carbonara like we’ve never seen it! What a great idea, girl!

  44. Gloria says:

    Look really delicious Joanne! gloria

  45. julia says:

    haaa. bipedal.
    i’m happy you can walk again and this pasta looks like a beautiful thing

  46. Glad to hear you’re off your crutches. 🙂 This looks really good- kabocha squash is my favorite winter squash. I do wish I could find fancy things like tempeh bacon where I live. Not gonna happen though. I could use some smoky salty deliciousness!

  47. daphne says:

    I am sure your fitness level will return after a few days of training. You can do it! in the meantime, enjoy the break and the beautiful squash pasta!!

  48. That Girl says:

    You’re living in New York and yet missing the quintessental “crutch” costume – Crutchie from Newsies!

  49. Johanna GGG says:

    I thought that it would be quite ghoulish to be in a mummy outfit with a crutch – as though you were falling apart – but that might feel too close to reality! Nice pasta – good to see the facon making its way into your meals 🙂

  50. Kalyn says:

    So glad to hear you are walking again. And what a great job you did photographing this dish; looks delicious!

  51. Catherine says:

    Dear Joanne, I am sure you will be a perfect butterfly! This dish is not only very pretty, it looks delish!! Have fun and blessings my dear, Your friend, Catherine xo

  52. Mo 'Betta says:

    I’m assuming you’re SUPPOSED to be off your crutches!? I have to ask these things since your my adopted daughter and all 😉

  53. ok, I’m in, we’ve been on a squash craze lately!

  54. Love this concept of an indulgent dish like carbonara paired with some more nutritious ingredients!

  55. I’m pitifully behind in reading blogs, for almost a week now. So, I missed the memo that you are injured. Heal well, as San Francisco isn’t far away. You’ll need it to climb those hills! I love the color of this dish. Would you believe I’ve never tried almond milk? You use it a lot, so I’m thinking it’s time to see what it’s all about.

  56. sally says:

    I think I could eat this for all of my meals for several days too! I hope all went well with the butterfly costume.

  57. A healthy take on a classic carbonara!

  58. Lora says:

    I love the trio of insects idea and this delectable pasta dish!

  59. Barbara says:

    This is such a fabulous combination of good things, Joanne. And I like every single one, too.
    (I’ve done the crutches bit, more than once. And BE CAREFUL. My daughter says you’ve got snow up there!!!)

  60. Dana says:

    Looks delicious Joanne. You know that core strength will help you heal in many ways, right? Good for you for continuing to stay fit!

  61. Glad you’re crutchless now – you’ll be back and running in no time (which will feel like an eternity!)

  62. Sippity Sup says:

    Colorful and seasonal. I love tempeh, but the bacon form is new to me. GREG

  63. Romwe Online says:

    courage,with it,everyday is sushining:D looove for you and the recipe

  64. iscribbler says:

    This looks delicious! I’ve never had tempeh and I would love to try it with pumpkin – yum! 🙂 I love that you’re doing pilates while you rest. It’s a great way to stay fit and I did it with yoga when I had to heal my hip flexor.

  65. Megan says:

    I need to try this… though I think I’d end up using real bacon. 🙂

    So happy to hear about your progress. And your costumes sound so cute!

  66. Faith says:

    I’m so happy you’re walking again, sweetie! Thank goodness for roommates and tough love, lol. The pasta looks wonderful, I’ve been eating butternut like it’s going out of style lately! 🙂

  67. Beth says:

    This sounds so good! (I saw that you’re on a first date today. Let us know how it goes!)

  68. Lori says:

    I am truly wowed by your ways with winter squash. Glad to hear you are off the crutches and recovering!

  69. Add butternut squash to a recipe and I am there. Looks delicious.

  70. Squash, pasta and spinach – talk about a match made in heaven!

  71. Mary says:

    When I saw the title for this post, I grinned and thought to myself, How on earth is it carbonara without BACON?! Well, now I know. I had no idea that such a thing existed. I might be tempted to try this recipe WITH real bacon though. I love the addition of butternut squash. YUM.

    And this, “nothing says sad and celibate like a butterfly with a crutch” totally cracked me up. Enjoy your freedom from the crutches. I’ll refrain from mentioning that you should take it easy. Good luck with the gym!

  72. Love ALL these ingredients. Just got a big butternut squash and this looks like a great way to use it!!!

  73. You, my dear, are hilarious -I wish I had your kind of motivation to get to the gym..

    Love your recipe, although I must agree with Mary -Needs bacon =p

  74. I’ve never tried vegetarian meat substitutes but def want to give it a go. Might just try the topping while carbs are off the diet. Looks delish 🙂

  75. Nicole says:

    I love tempeh bacon and this looks absolutely divine!

    I do the same thing as you. I tell myself that I need to continue to eat something that I can’t stop eating because it’s so delicious all in the name of health.

  76. hope you get moving more soon so sorry, this looks so good

  77. This looks fabulous. I have yet to try the tempeh bacon but you have inspired me. 😉

  78. Katerina says:

    The colors of this pasta are gorgeous! Take it easy with your legs Joanne, give yourself some time and you’ll be back to normal really soon! Take care!

  79. Chris says:

    I think that might be the most colorful carbonara I’ve ever seen, I like it!

  80. Claudie says:

    Joanne, you have some natural talent for making pasta look crazy-delicious 🙂

  81. Gwen says:

    Oh! This looks so wonderful. I love your recipes!
    OH, hey, did you win the coffee recipe thing at Whole Foods>?
    I just submitted a recipe for their Parmesean cookoff.
    Vote for me! 😉

  82. Hi Joanne, Your Butternut Squash Carbonara recipe has been selected to be featured in a Recipe Guessing Game. Please share the following link with your friends and fans. To play, go here: Congrats again!! 🙂

  83. Ruth Daniels says:

    Love your posts – for the stories and of course for the dishes. Your photos always have me drooling. Thanks for sharing this one with Presto Pasta Nights.

  84. Happy to hear you’re walking again! 🙂 This dish sounds delicious. I have yet to try making tempeh bacon.

  85. Er I mean walking without crutches. 🙂

  86. lauren_015 says:

    This is totally my lunch tomorrow!

  87. […] Vegetarian Butternut Squash Carbonara via Eats Well with Others […]

  88. Pam says:

    I am a procrastinator- as well as a mediocre cook. (Too impatient, maybe?)
    BUT- oh my gosh I loved this recipe!!
    Thankyouthankyouthankyou. <3

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