March 9, 2009

$5 Dinner: Fettucine with Brussels Sprouts


Did you grow up hating brussels sprouts? For me, brussels sprouts were an instance in which the reputation of the vegetable overshadowed my own experience. Because they were so publicly maligned, I assumed I wouldn’t like them. If they were famous for being stinky, soggy orbs, why should my experience be any different? Come to think of it, I don’t even remember ever being served brussels sprouts as a kid. Probably every adult I knew thought the smear campaign had been so effective, why bother?

I can’t be sure when the turnaround happened. Maybe it was in college, or maybe it wasn’t until my mom and sister started roasting them with lots of olive oil and garlic in a hot oven until they emerged brown and caramelized in places, transformed like Cinderella, from a humble cruciferous vegetable into something so seemingly decadent.

In fact, maybe brussels sprouts are the ideal makeover subject, easily taken from lowly to lovely. As you might expect, something magical happens in this fettucine recipe. Since I ate delicious brussels sprouts at Chicago’s Feed, I’ve known that something special happens when you slice these guys, rather than halving them or leaving them whole. Add butter and pine nuts, and somehow the result becomes otherworldly. This is another fine appearance of an alchemy recipe, a creation in which the final product is so much more than the sum of its parts. This pasta comes together in a jiffy, perfect for a weeknight, and is at once vibrantly green, seductively simple, and delightfully buttery.

If you feel, for some reason, that you are not a brussels sprouts fan, I encourage you to give this recipe and this vegetable another shot. Like a bad movie in which an obviously gorgeous girl is transformed into a prom queen just by losing her glasses, looks can be deceiving.

Fettucine with Brussels Sprouts
Serves 2
adapted from Gourmet

10 ounces brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
8 ounces dried egg fettuccine
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons pine nuts

Slice brussels sprouts in a food processor fitted with slicing disk.

Cook fettuccine in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat butter and oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until foam subsides, then cook pine nuts, stirring, until golden. Add Brussels sprouts, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, then sauté over medium-high heat until tender and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.

Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta and add to skillet, tossing with enough reserved water to moisten.

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  • Alicia Kachmar: Yum!!!! I will have to try it. I was converted to brussels sprouts when at Beast in Brooklyn: sauteed brussels sprouts!6 years ago

  • Lisa (dinner party): I like the shaved brussels sprout salad at Frankie’s in Carroll Gardens. This pasta dish reminds me a lot of that.6 years ago

  • Sara Rose: This sounds delightful- quick question- did you serve with any cheese to go over- romano, asiago, parm? I imagine a few shavings of asiago would be yummy!6 years ago

  • Lisa, I can’t believe I’ve only been to Frankie’s once. Clearly need to go back.

    Sara Rose, The original recipe calls for grating some parmesan on top, but I didn’t have any and really didn’t think it needed any.6 years ago

  • Kristina: Oh yes, roasted brussels sprouts are the bomb. My conversion to the Church of Sprout happened with a dish of Roasted Brussels Sprouts in brown butter with pecorino romano and pecans. Thanks for bringing back fond memories!6 years ago

  • Sara Rose: Hmmmm ok. Will try both ways.6 years ago

  • ann: i had my first brussel sprout last year and i completely fell for it too. mine was a creamed version, and i’ve since had it hashed with pasta and in just about any buttery way i can imagine. i’m glad you feel the same way!6 years ago

  • Andrea: Oh, I love brussel sprouts, especially when they are shredded. Thank you for this recipe!6 years ago

  • caitlin: hi there! i just stumbled across your blog, and i am in love with it. i just wanted to comment and say hello, especially i literally just tried brussels sprouts for the first time last week. i roasted them and they were delicious. i’ve been telling all my friends that i’m a grown-up now, haha. can’t wait to try this recipe :)6 years ago

  • Christine S.: My daughter and I love brussel sprouts. My son, however, is another story. But, anything with pasta, he will eat. So, my guess is this will be a household favorite.

    Thanks for sharing, Sarah!6 years ago

  • Kristina, The Church of Sprout — ha! And that certainly sounds like the dish to do it.

    Andrea, Yeah, what is it about the shredding? I guess maybe it just prevents them from being over cooked, but I love it, too.

    Hi Caitlin! Welcome! Yeah, something about revisiting childhood prejudices does make you a grown-up, doesn’t it?

    Christine, Yes! Mission accomplished!6 years ago

  • megan (brooklyn farmhouse): Yum, this looks delicious! Love the combination, and love brussels sprouts! I don’t think I had the until I became an adult (we were not a very veggie-friendly family), so that’s probably why I have no negative bias!
    Unrelated to brussels: also wanted to tell you that every time I visit your site it makes me smile – beautiful, beautiful design. It’s nice to see a site where good design is a priority!6 years ago

  • michaela: i tagged this recipe to make. pleased to see you enjoyed it. this recipe is unexpectedly good as well! i made it with pine nuts and bellavitano. years ago

  • megan, that is so sweet of you. honestly, since the redesign last month, i still can’t get over how pretty the site is. it makes me smile everyday, too. cre8d did an awesome, awesome job. i’m so happy with the way it turned out.6 years ago

  • Jen: My first and only experience with brussel sprouts was 30 years ago. My family had been invited to our new next door neighbor’s home for dinner. Not wanting to appear rude, mom made us all choke down those hard little nasty balls of forbidden vegetable; it was the only vegetable I can remember never being served at home. Certain items were off limits thanks to my mom’s own upbringing: Spam, powdered milk and brussel sprouts.

    Perhaps I should give them another try? Afterall, I’ve since learned to like seafood, onions, and most other vegetables. Maybe mom and I were both wrong…6 years ago

  • Lisa (dinner party): I love me some Frankie’s. Any time you want to go, just say the word!6 years ago

  • Lindsay: Feed? FEED?? That’s my favorite!!! Did you see my picture in the bathroom?

    Feed is also the reason we eat brussel sprouts at home.

    Next time you’re in Chicago you HAVE to go to Feed for brunch. Pulled pork hash? Fried green tomato benedict? Are you kidding me?

    Also, next time you’re in Chicago, call me!6 years ago

  • Lindsay, My best friends took me there. It ROCKS, and I will definitely vote for brunch there next time I’m in Chicago. :)6 years ago

  • Ulla: So beautiful! Looks wonderfully good!:)
    Thanks for the inspiration:)6 years ago

  • caitlin: wow. i just wanted to say that i made this the other night and could not believe how good it was. it was all i could do from eating both portions. and it was so ridiculously easy. thanks!6 years ago

  • Sarah: Caitlin, YES! that’s exactly how I felt: “how can something so simple be SO GOOD?!?!” so glad you loved it. i’ve also been thinking that maybe other vegetables could benefit from this same treatment. like, what if come asparagus season you subbed it in for the brussels sprouts?6 years ago

  • Jennifer: Thank you for providing me with two delicious dinners this week! We just ate this and it was soooo good. The brussel sprouts really hold the butter and oil so nicely. And, I will be making the Mexican Turkey Soup for the Sick ( tomorrow, for the second time in a few months. You are officially in my recipe binder in more than one category!6 years ago

  • Oh man, Jennifer, that is awesome! It is always so great to hear from people who have made stuff and liked it. I haven’t had that turkey soup since I wrote about it, but as I recall, it was a real winner!6 years ago

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Life itself is the proper binge.
- Julia Child