The only thing I love more than the holidays is when the holidays are over. January is me-time for locals, who are suddenly free of out of town guests and holiday obligations. As the throngs of tourists dissipate, we take back the tram line at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and waltz into our favorite restaurants without a reservation.
January is the time to get down to the real business of winter: skiing our hearts out and cooking hearty, no-fuss suppers to fuel our adventures.
Over the holidays, there was a whole lot of cooking, eating and drinking at my house, as I am sure there was at yours. We have been fortunate to eat well, but now we are ready for simpler fare, with a good dose of cruciferous vegetables to detox from the indulgences of the holidays.
This is one of my all-time favorite Brussels sprouts recipes, and it’s the kind of dish that comes together as fast as the pasta boils. Tonight I am making Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Lemon and Almonds.
Now I know there are some Brussels sprouts lovers out there, as well as some Brussels sprouts haters. I have not met anyone who is indifferent to Brussels sprouts; it’s a vegetable that requires you to take a stand.
But since I am firmly in the pro-Brussels sprouts camp, having come to this conviction late in life, I am always hopeful to swing a few of those stubborn anti-sprouts people over to our side. Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Lemon and Almonds is a dish that could do just that.
As you can probably guess, this has the potential to be one of those recipes that will help you clean out the contents of your refrigerator. The pasta and the Brussels sprouts are crucial, but the rest of the ingredients are up for grabs.
No almonds? Try homemade croutons, toasted pine nuts, or pecans. Out of bacon? A small hunk of pancetta, prosciutto, guanciale or good old leftover ham would be perfect. Use the slivered rind of a preserved lemon (if you have one) or the zest of a lemon (if you don’t). No shallots? Try half of a yellow onion, finely chopped or two cloves of minced garlic instead. And just about any grated hard cheese would work. Or skip the cheese altogether….you possibly indulged in plenty of cheese over the holidays.
Jackson Hole Foodie’s Pasta with Brussels Sprouts
- Serves 4
- 1 pound sturdy pasta, such as fettuccine, linguini or spaghetti
- 3/4 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed of outer leaves and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 slices of bacon, finely chopped (or pancetta, or prosciutto, or guanciale)
- Rind from 1/2 of a preserved lemon, rinsed and sliced into slivers, or the zest of one lemon plus its juice
- 1/2 cup whole, unsalted almonds, toasted and chopped (or pine nuts, pecans or homemade croutons)
- Salt and pepper to taste (white pepper would be good)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or other hard cheese)
- Put a large pot of water on to boil.
- Heat a large frying pan, and add the butter and the olive oil.
- When the butter is bubbling, add the bacon and the shallot, and cook until the shallot is starting to brown.
- Add the slivered preserved lemon and the Brussels sprouts, and quickly "stir-fry" over high heat until the sprouts get nice and brown.
- Now turn down the heat a bit (add the lemon zest and lemon juice at this point, if using) and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- When the pasta water boils, add a generous pinch of salt (I'll add a tablespoon to a large pot), and cook the pasta until al dente.
- Before you drain the pasta, dip a one cup measuring cup into the pasta water and set aside. You'll use this to thicken the sauce.
- Add the drained pasta back to the pot, and then add the Brussels sprouts and all the juices from the frying pan.
- Toss, toss, toss, and cook over low heat for a minute, adding pasta water little by little to thicken the sauce.
- Top with the chopped almonds, the Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper.
- Toss, toss, toss, and serve.