This time of year, lovely stalks of brussels sprouts start appearing in grocery stores. Brussels sprouts are a member of the brassica family, and along with cousins broccoli, cabbage and kale, are known for their high nutrient content. I did not always appreciate this vegetable, since it is often just boiled and served plain as a side. But here is a dish that really highlights its rich and nutty flavor.
I was inspired by this recipe I found on finecooking.com: Orechiette with Brussels Sprouts, Gorgonzola and Brown-Butter Pecans. Personally, I am not a fan of heavy cream sauces so I replaced about half the cream in this recipe with white wine and vegetable broth (or some reserved pasta-cooking liquid). I also altered some of the instructions, which shouldn’t make a huge difference in the outcome; it was more a result of being too lazy to look up the recipe again. Either way, it turned out deliciously!
To begin: preheat oven to 500 degrees and start boiling a salted pot of water for the pasta. I used orecchiette pasta in the picture above, and whole wheat conchiglie in the two at the bottom of this post.
Toast the pecans. This was my favorite aspect of the dish, and toasting the nuts is extremely important to bring out their lovely flavor. I just set them in a cast iron skillet (you can use any kind of skillet, really) over medium heat until they started browning and were highly fragrant.
Set these aside, and work on the brussels sprouts. Slice the sprouts, using a food processor or by hand. Coat in olive oil, add some salt and pepper and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, until they start to look charred.
In the meantime, heat oil or butter in a large skillet, and add chopped shallots. When translucent, add about a quarter cup of white wine, about a quarter cup of heavy cream, and another quarter cup of broth, and another of gorgonzola cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. You can adjust those amounts based on how thick you prefer your sauce — and how much you like gorgonzola.
Toss in the pecans and brussels sprouts, stir to coat and cook for a few more minutes to allow flavors to meld.
Just before pasta is done cooking, reserve a cup of the water and drain. Toss the pasta in the skillet, adding some of the reserved water as necessary. Cover and continue cooking, stirring and adding more water occasionally, until pasta is thoroughly done.