Ditalini with Brussels Sprouts, Bacon and Pecorino
Brussels sprouts with bacon, a popular combination, transforms this humble pasta dish into something spectacular. If you’re using larger brussels sprouts, cut them into 6 or 8 pieces. You don’t want them to be too big next to the small ditalini. Finish this dish in the pan in which you fried the bacon for maximum flavor.
- 1 lb. (500 g) brussels sprouts, quartered
- 6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml) olive oil
- 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon
- 12 oz. (375 g) ditalini
- 1 yellow onion, quartered and sliced
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) grated pecorino romano cheese
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C).
Pile the brussels sprouts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with 4 Tbs. (2 fl. oz./60 ml) of the olive oil and the vinegar and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the sprouts in a single layer and roast, stirring once about halfway through, until fork-tender and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Set aside.
Bring a large pot two-thirds full of salted water to a boil over high heat.
In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, fry the bacon until crispy, about 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. When cool enough to handle, break the bacon into bite-sized piece.
Meanwhile, add the ditalini to the boiling water and cook according to the package instructions. Drain well and set aside.
Discard all but about 1 Tbs. of the bacon grease in the pan, add the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil, and warm over medium-high heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until lightly browned and soft, about 4 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts, the pasta and the bacon and stir to combine. Stir in the chicken broth and cook until the sauce thickens just a bit, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cheese and the lemon zest. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Pasta Night, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2014)