Until recently, it was impossible to find Brussels sprouts in Italy out of season, and you had to wait until fall or early winter to see them. Now, I can buy them year round at most of my local grocery stores which is a good thing because I do love my sprouts! I usually prepare Brussels sprouts in some manner at least once a week, whether as a side dish, an ingredient in the main course, or in a pasta dish like this one.
Brussels sprouts are low in calories but high in many nutrients, especially fiber, vitamin K and vitamin C. They are also considered high in antioxidants and contain kaempferol, an antioxidant that may reduce cancer growth, decrease inflammation and promote heart health. Though I usually roast my sprouts which brings out their natural sweetness, this recipes chars individual leaves on the stovetop, so you do not even have to turn the oven on.
I use guanciale in this dish, an Italian cured pork product made from the cheeks or jowls of the pig, but you could use pancetta, or even bacon if you wanted to. Although orecchiette, a small ear-shaped pasta from Puglia work perfectly in this recipe, and short dried pasta would work as well.
The sauce is similar to a creamy Carbonara, but I did not want to use the term Carbonara in the title as many Italian cuisine purists would get upset since Brussels sprouts are added. If you like the texture and flavor of a bowl of traditional Carbonara pasta, then you’ll enjoy this pasta dish!
The only trick to this dish is to use egg yolks that are well beaten and at room temperature, and once added to the dish, you need to continually stir the eggs briskly into the pasta to prevent scrambling the eggs. The goal is a creamy, thick, rich sauce!
- 1/2 Pound Brussels Sprouts, Ends Trimmed & Leaves Separated
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 3/4 Pound Dried Orecchiette Pasta (See Notes Above)
- 1/2 Cup Diced Guanciale (Or Pancetta or Bacon)
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 1/2 Teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper (Plus Extra To Serve)
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- 1/3 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese (Plus More For Serving)
- 3 Large Egg Yolks At Room Temperature, Beaten With A Fork
- In a large, heavy bottomed frying pan over high heat add the oil and once sizzling, add the sprout leaves in batches, tossing every couple of minutes until they have browned spots and are beginning to wilt.
- Remove the sprouts to a bowl, and add the guanciale and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and black pepper and cook another minute or two.
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of lightly salted water until "al dente".
- Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
- Add 1/2 cup pasta water to the frying pan and whisk to blend.
- Add the butter and continue to whisk for a minute or two until melted and sauce begins to thicken.
- Add the pasta to the pan, toss to coat, and add half the cheese, tossing well.
- Remove from the heat and add the egg yolks along with the remaining cheese, stirring continually to keep the eggs from coagulating.
- Add the sprout leaves and any additional pasta water needed to thin the sauce.
- Serve piping hot with an additional sprinkling of black pepper and grated pecorino.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 556Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 243mgSodium: 931mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 16g