I am calling this Orecchiette with Roasted Brussels Sprouts my upscale version of Cabbage and Noodles. Not only did I roast the Brussels sprouts, but I also roasted the garlic. No joke. I put the leftovers in the fridge and just went back for another bowl. It is that good.
Make this as a meal, or side dish! It is one your family will love. You may just convert those who dislike Brussels sprouts!
I did not use bacon for this recipe, but I did think about it. Bacon would add an extra level of flavor. The bacon grease could have been used to toast the pignoli nuts instead of the butter or olive oil. Hmmm. Now, I want bacon!!!
Heat oven to 415 degrees. Start boiling the water for the pasta. Do NOT forget to salt the water! I love using orecchiette, but on a recent visit to Pennsylvania, I found these Shellbows from Delallo. They really were a great vessel and the perfect alternative to hold the sauce.
Cut the ends off of the Brussels sprouts and slice into ribbons. Lay the sprouts on a sheet pan. One one corner of the pan, add the garlic bulb. Keep the garlic in the skin so that it will roast, and not burn. Drizzle the Brussels sprouts and garlic with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook pasta to al dente. Drain when finished. Reserve at least one cup of the pasta water. Do NOT rinse your pasta.
Roast the Brussels sprouts and garlic until they turn a nice golden brown. Check often. Stir around so that all sides of the sprouts will get color. Be sure not to burn.
In a saucepan, add a tablespoon of olive oil or butter with the pignoli nuts. You just want to toast them. Keep a watchful eye, so they do not burn.
As the nuts are toasting, remove the garlic from the skin and mash up a bit with a fork. Add the garlic to the nuts and mash a bit more.
Immediately add in the heavy whipping cream and one-half cup of the pasta water. Zest in the lemon and add a few dashes of red pepper flakes.
Gently toss in the pasta and coat with the sauce. Fold in the roasted Brussels sprouts. Toss to combine. If you feel like the pasta absorbed a lot of the sauce, add in a touch more heavy cream and pasta water. Stir to warm up.
Serve the Orecchiette with Roasted Brussels Sprouts in bowls with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and ENJOY!
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