Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Bacon and Walnuts

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Bacon and Walnuts

Brussels sprouts, as they say, are having a moment. They're not just a little more popular than usual, but have gone from being a fairly consistently maligned vegetable (Brussels sprouts? Ewww) to one of the hottest ingredients in restaurants and home kitchens.

I think we have two key things to thank for their resurgence: the oven and bacon. Roasting Brussels sprouts rather than steaming them releases their sweetness and provide caramelization. The best roasted Brussels sprouts are wonderfully brown and somewhat crispy. The second key thing is bacon, which has become a natural partner with the bitter green nubs.

Here I've combined the two in a pasta dish along with walnuts and a simple sauce. Dry white wine could be used instead of vermouth, although I find pasta dishes are a great way to use up bottles of vermouth if you're not a habitual martini drinker.

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Bacon and Walnuts

Makes about 5 servings

12 oz. Brussels sprouts
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
12 oz. dried farfalle pasta
1/3 cup walnut halves
1/2 lb. bacon, strips cut into 1/4-inch wide pieces
1 sweet onion, peeled and diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary
1/4 cup dry vermouth
Grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut the ends off the Brussels sprouts and remove outer leaves. Cut the remaining sprout in half through the root end so the halves remain intact. Add sprouts to a bowl, drizzle with 2 tbsp. olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and toss to coat sprouts with oil. Arrange sprouts on a baking sheet cut-side down. Roast until browned, about 35 minutes. Set aside to cool. If doing ahead of time, refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions until 2 minutes shy of al dente. Set aside 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta. Set aside until ready to use.

3. Toast walnuts in a small dry frying pan until fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from pan and coarsely chop.

4. Heat a Dutch oven or large sauté pan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until browned and fat has rendered. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper-towel-lined plate. Drain off excess bacon fat, leaving about 2 tbsp. in the pot. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and rosemary and stir to combine. Cook for another 2 minutes, then add the vermouth. Stir to incorporate and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the roasted brussels sprouts, toasted walnuts, cooked bacon and partially cooked pasta. Add the reserved cup of pasta cooking water and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes until pasta is al dente. Serve in bowls topped with grated parmigiano-reggiano.


  1. I've loved Brussels sprouts since before they were cool. I suppose that's because you've been cooking with them for years. I love this dish in particular.

  2. Love brussels sprouts! Thanks, once again, for a fabulous recipe.