At a party the weekend after Thanksgiving, the conversation quickly turned to food and, in particular, Brussels sprouts. We agreed that they were delicious and should be broken out of their holiday prison.
We also agreed that they don’t need to be blanched, that when halved, quartered, or shredded they cook up very nicely in some butter. Brown butter, in particular.
For this pasta I decided to shred the sprouts. I thought the thin ribbons would be nice tossed with a short pasta, something with a twist or curve that they could cling to. I chose gemelli, which is actually two tubular noodles twisted around each other and cut into short lengths.
If you have a food processor, go ahead an use it to slice the Brussels sprouts. I used a mandolin. Either way, you want to remove the tough outer leaves first. If you use a food processor, trim the stem. If you use a mandolin, leave the stem on and use it as a grip to hold onto as you slice.
Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Brown Butter, and Parmesan
4 oz unsalted butter
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, tough outer leaves removed and sliced thinly on a mandolin or in a food processor
4 oz (about 1 1/2 c) freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano
1 lb. Gemelli or other short pasta
salt and lots of freshly ground pepper
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving about 2 cups of the cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the sprouts: In a large wide pan big enough to hold the sprouts and the pasta, melt the butter over medium heat. Let the butter cook until the solids have separated and turned golden brown, and it smells nutty.
3. Add the onion and garlic to the butter with a bit of salt and cook until very soft, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat if necessary to keep the butter from getting any darker.
4. Add the Brussels sprouts to the onion mix, season and cook 5 minutes or so, stirring frequently to coat the sprouts, until they are tender but not too soft.
5. Add the drained pasta and half of the reserved pasta water to the Brussels sprouts and toss together. If it seems very dry, add more of the water.
6. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese.
7. Taste and season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.
Variations: This would be delicious with some diced Pancetta — cook it in the butter before adding the onion. Toasted walnuts, finely chopped, are good with pastas like this, too. Add them when you add the cheese.