Salty, Spicy and Bright Brussels Sprouts Pasta
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When our to-do list is long and our day is hectic, dinner can seem like the least of our priorities. But then we remember that there’s pasta—specifically, this salty, spicy and bright Brussels sprouts pasta from Leanne Brown’s cookbook, Good Enough. It’s cheesy, filling and beyond simple to toss together, but still packs a nutritious vegetable punch.
“I made this one rainy afternoon,” Brown writes, “when I was suffering from a sinus infection, my kid had just started at a new school and had her last day of daycare, and there were so many things to think about and feel, but little time and even less energy. I took some deep breaths, grabbed my knife and finely chopped some Brussels sprouts while I waited for water to boil, and I treated myself to a quiet moment and a plate of comforting pasta that was just for me. I even had leftovers for my kid and babysitter.”
Now you can check dinner off your to-do list.
Adapted from Good Enough: A Cookbook by Leanne Brown, illustrations by Allison Gore. Workman Publishing © 2022.
Fine sea salt
8 to 12 ounces Brussels sprouts
5 garlic cloves
1 shallot (optional)
8 ounces orecchiette pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Zest of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup grated Romano cheese, divided (see note)
1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, chop the Brussels sprouts into ribbons. Transfer the shredded sprouts to a bowl and set aside. Slice the garlic and the shallot, if using, into half-moons.
3. When the pasta water is boiling, add the orecchiette and cook according to the package instructions until the pasta is al dente.
4. While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil and melt the butter. Add the garlic and shallot and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the Brussels sprouts and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes.
5. Remove the lid and stir the vegetables—you should see some browning and the Brussels sprouts should be bright green and just tender. Reduce the heat to low, add the lemon zest and red pepper flakes, stir and cook until the pasta is done, about 4 minutes more.
6. When the pasta is done, use a strainer or slotted spoon to transfer it directly into the pan with the vegetables. (Reserve the pasta water.) Stir to combine, then add ½ cup of the grated Romano and ½ cup or so of the pasta cooking water. Stir briskly, adding more of the Romano and loosening with more pasta water as needed, up to ¾ cup, until the pasta is loose and saucy.
7. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more lemon zest, red pepper flakes or Romano. Top with a bit more Romano before serving.
Note: The sauce for this recipe works best if the Romano is grated with the pointy part of a box grater, so that you end up with crumbly pieces of cheese. However, if you’ve bought your Romano already grated, that will work fine too.