Pasta With Brussels Sprouts, Chile and Pancetta.

March 5, 2013

{some beautiful eggs I collected the other of these poached over the below pasta dish would be perfect}
Confession: I have been terrible about taking photos of things I've been cooking lately, which is the one of the main reasons I have not been posting about food.  I'm going to try to be better going forward, but I can't keep this (un-photographed) recipe to myself any longer.  

Although in general, B is a very grateful and open-minded eater of whatever I put in front of him, he is hugely critical of most pasta dishes.  I call him My Pasta Snob in the most endearing way possible.  I have to admit, his criticisms are usually well-founded, even if I am the one who made the dish: overcooked (al dente is a religion to him), too much sauce, not seasoned enough, etc. etc.   But this dish.  This dish he declared one of his favorite ever.  He even said it tasted just like something he'd had in Italy.  Better file this one away.

Pasta With Brussels Sprouts, Chile and Pancetta

(from the New York Times)

  • Sea salt
  • 8 ounces penne (I used orecchiette because I love it and think it was perfect for this dish)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 3 ounces pancetta, diced (could substitute bacon in a pinch)
  • 1 large rosemary sprig
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 jalapeño or Serrano chile, thinly sliced (or substitute 1 large pinch crushed red pepper flakes)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • Fresh lemon juice, for serving
  • Freshly grated pecorino cheese (I used parmigiano-reggiano)


Bring large pot heavily salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until pasta is just al dente (do not overcook...repeat, DO NOT OVERCOOK, or B will refuse to eat your lovingly-prepared meal).
Meanwhile, heat large sauté pan over high heat and add the olive oil. When oil is hot, add the pancetta and rosemary, and sauté until the fat on the pancetta starts to turn translucent and very lightly brown, about 1 minute. Add the garlic, chile and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and sauté until garlic and pancetta turn richly brown, about 3 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts, a large pinch of salt and a splash of water to pan, and sauté until sprouts just start to soften, about 2 minutes. Spread sprouts mixture in pan and press down to flatten. Let it sear for a minute, then stir it up and repeat. This helps brown the sprouts. Add the butter, and sauté for another minute.
Drain penne and add it to pan with brussels sprouts mixture. Cook, tossing, until everything is well mixed. Spoon into pasta bowls and top with a drizzle of oil and lemon juice, and plenty of cheese.


  1. just put myself on a pretty rigid diet... but adding this to my "must-try" list.

  2. Thanks Jora, I adore your recipes. Will make this one tomorrow!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Mmmm, brussels sprouts! I keep trying to foist them on everyone. Not in tricky ways, at all, either, but because I rather like them. This recipe may appeal to even my pickiest eater (my husband) as well as the rest of the family.

  5. I am so glad you are blogging again. I have been your faithful reader for 5 years. I cannot believe it, but I started reading this blog when I still lived in Europe. Anyway, thanks for the recipe! I need some inspiration. I do agree with your husband. Al dente is a must regarding pasta. I am not even a pasta lover, but al dente is mandatory in my kitchen.

  6. This sounds delicious - minus the rosemary of course ;)

  7. Mmm, this sounds fantastic. I love Brussels, but am married to someone highly suspicious of them. This is the type of dish (read: contains a salted pig part) that he can probably, maybe get with. Ah, husbands :)


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