You know how sometimes you stumble onto something you never get tired of? That one song, that really soft cozy sweater, your favorite lotion? I have a ratty pair of jeans that no matter how ‘fluffy’ (or un-fluffy) I get, they still magically fit. They are obviously my favorite. I’m the same way with my coffee order at Starbucks. Tall Americano with 2 pumps of vanilla and a splash of cream. I think I’ve been ordering the same drink for 10 years now.
This dish is the equivalent to my favorite jeans. It can do no wrong. It is always satisfying and delicious and no matter how many times I’ve made it (which is a lot) it remains one of the most versatile and crowd-pleasing dishes I’ve ever made. I’ve made this dish on quiet nights after the kids go to bed and I’ve served it to extended family at a celebration dinner. Sometimes I skip the pasta and just eat the brussel sprouts straight from the pan. I get rave reviews every time I make it. It’s a great dish to play around with; offering lots of forgiveness for tweaking until you make it just how you like it. At my house, we add extra red pepper flakes and lots of lemon and parmesan.
- Sea salt
- 8 ounces penne (about half a box of pasta)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
- 3 or 4 slices of center cut bacon, thinly sliced
- 1 large rosemary sprig
- 1 heaping teaspoon of chopped garlic (about 4 cloves, chopped finely)
- Generous sprinkling of red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces brussel sprouts, sliced thinly
- 2 teaspoons butter
- Fresh squeeze of lemon
- Parmesan cheese
- Bring large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until pasta is just al dente. Do not overcook…I repeat, DO NOT OVERCOOK. You are going to toss the pasta with the brussel sprouts in a hot pan and the noodles will continue to cook a bit.
- Meanwhile, heat large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When oil is hot, add the bacon and rosemary, sautéing until the fat on the bacon starts to turn translucent and very lightly brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and sauté until garlic and bacon turn richly brown, an additional 3 minutes.
- Add the brussel sprouts, a large pinch of salt and a splash of water to the 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 squeeze half a lemon over the dish, sauté for another minute.
- Drain penne and add to pan with brussel sprouts mixture. Cook an additional minute, tossing, until everything is well mixed. Spoon into pasta bowls and top with parmesan cheese and extra lemon juice.