This pennette recipe from Nancy Harmon Jenkins’ and Sara Jenkins’ cookbook, The Four Seasons of Pasta, is made with fresh Brussels sprouts, crunchy bread crumbs, and pancetta for a balanced and delicious bite.
Reprinted by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Nancy Harmon Jenkins and Sara Jenkins, 2015
- 1 1/2 Pound Brussels sprouts
- 1/2 Cup dry unflavored bread crumbs, coarsely ground
- 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 Cup grated pecorino toscano or pecorino sardo
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 Ounces pancetta, diced
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- Pinch of red pepper flakes, preferably Aleppo pepper, or ground piment d’Espelette
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 Pound pennette, maccheroncini, or other short stubby pasta
Prepare the Brussels sprouts, teasing the leaves apart. You should have 7 to 8 cups of sprout leaves in the end.
Combine the bread crumbs with 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring and watching carefully, until the crumbs have taken on a bit of color and crunch, then scrape into a small bowl. As soon as the crumbs have lost some of their heat, stir in the grated pecorino. Set aside.
Combine the butter and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Let the butter melt and foam, then add the pancetta dice and cook, stirring, until the pancetta starts to change color and crisp. Add the sprout leaves in handfuls, stirring each handful in carefully and letting it start to wilt before you add another. If necessary, add a couple of tablespoons of boiling water to keep the sprouts from sticking to the pan—but the sprouts should brown and not simmer. Stir in the rosemary and a good pinch of red pepper flakes, along with a pinch of salt. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if necessary along with several turns of black pepper. Then set aside in its pan.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add salt and the pasta and cook.
As soon as the pasta is al dente, drain and turn it into a warm serving bowl along with the warm sprouts and pancetta. Toss to mix well, then dress with the bread crumb–cheese mixture and serve immediately.