Brussels Sprouts – the veggie that so many people hate . . . or think they hate.
That was my son, Nick . . . until I baited him with Brie – one of his favorite cheeses. I figured if I could create a pasta that featured both Brie and the dreaded Brussels Sprouts, Nick might learn to like the latter.
Thus, my Cruciferous Pasta was born.
Since Nick was home on Thanksgiving break, I went back to Fool a Carnivore to remake Cruciferous Pasta last night and figured out how to simplify the preparation, cut the fat, and amplify the flavor.
I had a long, gorgeous stalk of organic Brussels Sprouts and cut the tiny tender sprouts off about 2/3 of the way up the stalk, giving me about a pound of super fresh mini cabbages. Tweaking my original recipe, I substituted minced red onion for the yellow onion, added extra garlic and white wine, cut the amount of unsalted butter in half, and added a few more veggie bacon strips for added crunch and texture. The differences may seem small . . . But they made the recipe much better.
I think that one of the reasons that people think they hate Brussels Sprouts is that they were forced as kids to eat overcooked, boiled Sprouts, which have a nasty, sulfur-like odor. I steam, oven roast, or saute them, choosing the smallest ones I can find and never, ever overcook them.
One of the best reasons to eat Brussels Sprouts is their nutritional benefits. One of my favorite websites, The World’s Healthiest Foods, cites over fifty studies that involve the health benefits of Brussels Sprouts in relation to cancer. Apparently, these cute mini cabbages help our bodies de-toxify, are loaded with antioxidants, and have anti-inflammatory components. And while Brussels Sprouts are very low in calories (a steamed cup has only 56 calories), they also can help lower cholesterol by binding with intestinal bile acids, which tricks the liver into thinking that it needs to replace the lost bile acids by tapping into existing stores of cholesterol – which causes our cholesterol levels to drop.
That’s a whole lot of nutrition in one much-maligned veggie.
I know Brie is hardly a “health food,” but consider how much you might mindlessly eat at a holiday cocktail buffet. Since this recipe serves at least six people (not four, as I originally thought), I’ll bet the amount of Brie you consume in Cruciferous Pasta will be less than at the holiday party!
And if eating them with Brie helps you to actually enjoy Brussels Sprouts . . . how cool is that?
- ½ stick unsalted butter
- 7-8 strips MorningStar Farms Bacon Strips
- 1 small red onion, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 pound Brussels Sprouts, cut from the stalk, bottoms removed, and sprouts very thinly sliced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼– ⅓ cup stock or broth
- Sea salt and pepper
- ¾ pound Brie, rind removed and cut into small pieces.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
- 1½–2 tablespoons salt
- 1 pound fettuccine or taglietelle
- Melt the unsalted butter over low heat. Turn off the heat and let it stand for about 5 minutes. Skim off the foam on top, and then carefully pour it into another container, leaving behind the milky solids. You now have clarified butter which can cook at a higher heat without burning.
- Spray a small skillet with non-stick cooking spray, and cook the veggie bacon strips on both sides until lightly brown. I like to do this while I'm doing the next step, to save time, but pay attention and don't let them burn. Remove the veggie bacon strips to a plate covered by a triple thickness of paper towels. When totally cool, crumble them and set aside. (Please don't substitute another type of veggie bacon strips. I'm not a big fan of Morning Star Farms, but this is the only veggie bacon strip that works in this recipe.)
- Put the clarified butter in a large skillet. Sauté the minced red onion for 6-7 minutes until softened. Add the red bell pepper and sauté for 3-4 more minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the Brussels Sprouts and sauté for a minute, followed by the wine. Cook for 2-3 minutes, and add the lower amount of stock or broth. Cover tightly, turn the heat to very low and cook for about 4-8 minutes, depending on how crisp you like your Brussels Sprouts. I suggest tasting at the 4 minute mark, and only cook them longer if you know that your family likes them very tender. Turn off heat, add the Brie, and give it a stir to incorporate and cover.
- Put your pasta on when you cover the Brussels Sprouts mixture so that everything cooks at the same time. Make sure your water is rapidly boiling, and you’ve added salt, right before adding the pasta. Since fettuccine or tagliatelle can stick together, make sure that you give the pasta a good stir for the first minute or two to make sure that all of the strands are loose and separated.
- When the pasta is al dente, reserve a cup of the starchy pasta water. Drain the pasta in a colander, and put it back in the very warm pasta pot. Add the Brussels Sprouts/Brie mixture, along with some of the pasta water, a few tablespoons at a time, to loosen the sauce. (I also put some of the pasta water in the skillet where I cooked the veggies to make sure that I haven't left any goodies behind.)
- Serve the pasta topped with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and crumbled bacon strips.
All Rights Reserved