“Chi ha la salvia nell’orto, ha la salute nel corpo.”
Who has sage in the garden has health in the body.
from the archives // 22 January 2021
There’s something about sage that transports my tastebuds to Italy. With the state of the world and the pandemic over the last year, travel has been (or at least, felt that it should be) off-limits for many people.
Even if you aren’t ready to hop on a plane, you can experience travel through taste. I mean, I say that, but I will also be the first to admit that it can be a challenge to find even a simple tomato that carries the amount of flavor that one has when harvested straight off a Tuscan farm. What is it about Italian vegetables that makes their flavor so rich? The best dishes I’ve tasted in Italia have been homemade by the families I stayed with, using the fewest and most simple of ingredients.
Less is more. Meno è meglio.
I will always remember the simple combination of sliced fennel and lemon, made by a friend’s mother in Pescara a couple years ago – though I may not remember how to make it, nor have the magical Italian touch that adds that little something extra to foods made with love and care.
Is there a better combination than butternut squash and sage?
It’s a combination that has always made me salivate – from the simplicity of roasted squash with a sprinkling of sage, to a more indulgent butternut squash ravioli with a creamy butter & sage sauce. Mmmm…
Fresh sage leaves have always carried a particularly pleasant flavor for me. Maybe it’s the unique piney flavor that gives a feeling of grounded rootedness. Add to that root vegetables or squash, and you’ve got a combination that anchors your nervous system in the cooler seasons of the year.
But regarding that scrumptious love of Butternut Squash Ravioli – well, I have not yet taken the leap into figuring out how to make Paleo-friendly ravioli – a feat that I’m sure would be considered sacrilegious in Italy. So the intention behind this recipe was simply to level up the simplicity of the flavor combination and make more of a well-rounded meal, rather than a side dish.
The combination of Italian pancetta, pecorino romano, and fresh sage taste like Italy – though minus the pizza saturated in sun-doused tomatoes and the accompanying gluten-ache.
Sure, you might categorize a frittata as a breakfast dish. But I like to think that the best breakfast recipes are those that you can carry over into lunch or dinner.
A Note on Saltiness
As you’ll see in the recipe below, I didn’t add any salt. The combination of pecorino romano & pancetta came together to add the perfect level of salinity for my tastebuds.
Depending on your cheese source, you may have slightly different flavors and levels of saltiness. The pecorino romano I chose from Cibaria has lower salinity levels, complemented by a sweet texture.
3+ TBSP coconut oil
2-3 cups cubed & roasted butternut squash (470-700 ml)
4 whole roasted garlic cloves
~4.2 oz (120 g) pancetta per carbonara (from Antica Ardenga)
1/2 large yellow onion
12 large free-range eggs
1/2 cup lactose-free yogurt (120 ml)
3.5 oz. (100 g) pecorino romano d.o.p. (from Cibaria)
2 cups chopped kale (470 ml)
2-3 TBSP (or, to taste) fresh sage leaves
If you have not already done so, prepare your butternut squash.
Pre-heat your oven to 400°F (200°C / 180°C fan-forced).
Peel & chop squash into desired cube shape & size (I recommend about 1 inch, or 2 cm).
Spread on a baking sheet & drizzle with 1-2 TBSP coconut or olive oil. Season with salt & pepper. Toss or stir.
Roast for 30-40 minutes.
Halfway through, stir the cubes for more even cooking, and slight caramelization around the edges. Add 4 garlic cubes & continue roasting for the remaining time.
Set aside and allow to cool.
Readjust oven temperature to 425°F (220°C / 200°C fan-forced).
Now that you've prepared your butternut squash cubes & roasted garlic, heat coconut oil in a frying pan or cast iron skillet on medium heat.
Sauté the pancetta carbonara until edges are caramelized.
Using the remaining fat, sauté the onion - also until caramelized. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add 1 TBSP of coconut oil to the frying pan, and the chopped kale. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the kale becomes wilted. Depending on your preference, you can cook until the kale begins to crisp.
While the kale is cooking, add the eggs, yogurt, and roasted squash to a blender or food processor. Blend until combined, thick, and creamy. Set aside.
Prepare a 9x12 inch casserole dish with oil. Add roasted butternut squash, pancetta, fried onions, and kale. Mix to combine.
Pour the egg mixture into the casserole dish. Sprinkle pecorino romano on top. Stir to combine, until the cheese is fully integrated with the egg mixture.
Transfer the frittata to the oven & cook for 15-20 minutes.
Keep an eye on the frittata for the last 5 minutes to make sure you don't over-cook it. Your ideal frittata is firm around the edges with a very slight jiggle in the center when you give it a shake.
Remove from the oven. Let rest for a few minutes. Slice, and serve!
I did not add additional salt, as I found the combination of pecorino romano d.o.p. and pancetta to be salty enough. I'd say, when it comes to salt in this dish, err on the side of caution. You can always season with additional salt later!