What a strange combination. A strange, wonderful, combination. Having braised lamb with figs and walnuts last weekend, my mind was on hot nuts: walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, heated and central to a dish. And my mind was also on brussels sprouts, which are available in abundance here now. This is certainly not something I would have welcomed with open arms a few years ago, but, in a final (and rather belated) leap into adulthood, I have developed not only a taste, but indeed a passion, for brussels sprouts.
And so: a brussels sprouts and pecan pasta. The result is unusual, but it works – in fact, it works terrifically well, what with the sweetness of the pecans balancing out the bitterness of the brussels sprouts. We used blue cheese stuffed ravioli, which added another complexity to the flavour. I do think that a strong-flavoured pasta is necessary with this recipe; otherwise, the pasta will simply sit in the background and not play a role in the dish.
Try it. This is the height of late winter dinners.
What you need: (serves two; the recipe scales well)
- strongly flavored pasta of your choice (blue cheese ravioli or sweet potato gnocchi both work well)
- 20-30 brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and cut in half
- 1/2 cup pecans, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
What you do:
- Steam or boil the brussels sprouts until just tender. Meanwhile, heat 2-3 tbsp butter in a skillet.
- Once the brussels sprouts are tender, drain them well and transfer them to the skillet. While they are soaking up the butter, cook the pasta.
- With one or two min. to go on the pasta, add the pecans and half of the Parmesan to the brussels sprouts and mix gently.
- To serve, scoop the brussels sprout-pecan mixture over the pasta and top with the remaining Parmesan.