penne with brussels sprouts.

January 28, 2013

brussels sprouts brussels sprouts brussels sprout pasta brussels sprout pasta mozzarella (and pecorino) brussels sprout pasta brussels sprout pasta Close to my sister’s apartment in the East Village is Motorino Pizza. It’s one of my favorite places to spend a cozy hour due in no small part to their brussels sprout pizza. It’s rich and delicious, garlicky and savory in a way that makes you groan with delight on your first bite.*

Since I can’t quite afford the luxury of a weekly pizza from Motorino, I’ve decided to make myself a variation in the form of pasta. I’ve made it twice in the past two weeks, once by cover of darkness on a weeknight when a quick dinner was in order, and again on a weekend with the intention of sharing it with you friends. I changed my method up the second time, and I’m beginning to think I might have been better off with the first attempt.  I’ll explain both techniques and let you choose your own adventure. In either case, this is a terrifically easy and satisfying meal for winter nights.

Below is the “recipe”**, which is perhaps better classified as an “encouragement to experiment with something you’ll probably quite enjoy”:


3/4 lb pasta (James and I eat pasta like we’re prepping for a marathon, so feel free to adjust if 3/4 lb for two seems extreme).
12 (roughly) brussels sprouts
pecorino cheese
mozzarella cheese (or fior di latte if you’re not too lazy or too cold to walk the extra 10 blocks to the fancy cheese shop)
2 garlic cloves (or to taste)
red pepper flakes (to taste)
salt (to taste)
olive oil


1. Start by peeling your brussels sprouts. You can chop them if you prefer, but I really like the thinness of the individual leaves. If your sprout has a particularly dense root, you can lop it off to help peel away the leaves. Once you get to the very tight layers in the center, you might decide chopping is the way to go. After you’ve disassembled your sprouts, give them a thorough rinse.

2. Here’s the adventure part: The first time I made this recipe, I roasted my disassembled leaves with sea salt and olive oil on a baking sheet in the oven. The thinnest leaves crisped right up, and after cooking them for about 10 minutes at 350 F, I did a quickie broil, watching carefully to be sure they didn’t all end up black. They were delicious. (I sauteed garlic and red pepper flakes together in a separate pan, stovetop). This time, to save myself a pan to wash, I roasted my sprouts on the stove in a large skillet with garlic and red pepper. I got a sear on some of the leaves, but the sprouts were less crispy than they were in the oven, and I think I overdid the garlic. You’ve been warned.

3. While your sprouts are cooking, boil your water and cook your pasta (I used penne) until it’s al dente. Again, to save myself a dish, I strained my pasta using the lid of my pot. Besides meaning that you don’t have to wash your colander  this method has the added advantage of making it easy to save some of the pasta water. (If you use a colander, make sure you reserve at least a 1/2 cup).

4. Once your pasta is drained and your sprouts are crisped, add them all together (if you use the first method, make sure you’ve also sauteed some garlic with red pepper flakes and add those to the mixture, too). Next, add your cheese. I cut my mozzarella into small chunks and grated my pecornio, about a half cup of each. Bottom line: add as much or as little cheese as you want, but use your pasta water to help combine everything in to a delicious gooey mess.

*The original pizza includes smoked pancetta. Feel free to add it if that’s the sort of thing you enjoy…
**If you prefer a less talkative recipe, the New York Times published a variation, here (with pancetta).

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  • Reply Rebecca D. Martin January 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Oh my heavens, this looks amazing. I'm in.

  • Reply Karin - The F Girl January 28, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    That looks delicious! Love your photography.

  • Reply Kate January 28, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    This looks delicious! Operation purchase Brussels Sprouts commences after work!
    Thanks for the recipe!
    Kate at

  • Reply Lauren Ashley January 28, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Yum – this sounds so good. I'm always on the look out for creative ways to use brussels sprouts.

  • Reply Little Kitchie January 28, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Looks delicious! I love using brussels sprouts in pasta dishes – so hearty.

  • Reply Chloe Moon January 28, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    YUMMY YUMMY!!!! =)

    I know brussel sprouts have a bad reptutation but I don't think I've ever even tried them! I'll have to try out this recipe!! =)

    Ergo – Blog

  • Reply Trista January 28, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    This looks amazing. I'm inept in the kitchen, but will definitely forward this recipe to my boyfriend (who is not).

  • Reply Bee Girl January 28, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Yes, this will be made and enjoyed! I can hardly wait!

  • Reply Gregory Brown January 28, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Not only does the recipe sound good it looks good too. Taking pictures in the kitchen is always hard for me. You do it well.

  • Reply Hannah Margaret Allen January 28, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Oh I love brussel sprouts! I need to make this for a new way to prepare them. Thanks!

  • Reply Selene January 28, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    looove the dish and the pics! :)

  • Reply Sarah Dee January 28, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    This sounds absolutely scrumptious! Thanks for sharing :)


  • Reply Mary January 29, 2013 at 1:34 am

    I can't tell you how yummy this sounds! I love Brussels sprouts. And in pasta they must be so delicious. I'm making this tomorrow! :)

  • Reply Melissa January 29, 2013 at 2:50 am

    This sounds amazing! I will have to try to make it AND try the inspiration pizza too :)

  • Reply sweet harvest moon January 29, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Sounds delicious!

  • Reply Ann January 31, 2013 at 2:51 am

    I tried this recipe today and it really was tasty. I totally agree about peeling the brussels sprouts first. I loved the delicate crispness of each leaf.

    Also, made your caramelized onion, mushroom, goat cheese tart this week. You're slowly turning me into a tart convert. :)

  • Reply dear olive February 7, 2013 at 3:14 am

    I'm just visiting your gorgeous blog for the first time, and it's completely won me over. (I'm now your newest follower … hello!). I thought you might like this recipe, it's from one of the best and coolest restaurants in Sydneys Surry Hills (Porteno), and these brussel sprouts are the highlight of their menu ..
    Kellie xx

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