Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brussels Sprouts Pasta

I first had this dish when visiting a wonderful friend and cook in the Puget Sound of Washington. She made such good use of Brussels sprouts by adding them to a pasta sauce. Cooking them with a quick saute brings out their natural sweetness, while the addition of bacon gives a smoky undertone.


3 slices cooked bacon (optional)
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup sliced Brussels sprouts
1 cup sliced leeks (or chopped onion)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup chicken stock (2 frozen cubes, see tip below)
1/4 cup soy creamer
1 tsp fresh herbs, thyme or parsley
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
several grinds of salt and pepper
6 ounces whole wheat pasta


Fill a large pot with several quarts of water, and bring to a boil. This will be used to cook the pasta. Once the water comes to a full boil, add the pasta and cook per package instructions. Drain. Prepare the pasta sauce while the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking. Cook the bacon in the microwave or on the stove top until almost done, then wrap in paper towels to remove most of the fat. Discard the bacon fat. After the vegetables are all cut, heat a nonstick saute pan to medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pan, then add the nearly cooked bacon, Brussels sprouts, leeks, mushrooms, and garlic. Add the chicken stock to the pan after several minutes, when the vegetables begin to stick. You want the vegetables to caramelize, not burn. That means they'll have some dark spots on them, but won't be burned. Add the soy creamer and cook for an additional minute, until the creamer gets thick and creamy. Stir in half of the Parmesan cheese, that's a couple of Tablespoons, and taste. Add salt and pepper as needed, then taste again. Serve by mixing the sauce with the pasta, and topping with the remaining Parmesan.

Serves 2 or 3

Stealthy Cooking Tip: Freeze your leftover chicken stock in ice cube trays, then empty the chicken stock cubes into containers for long term storage in the freezer. That way you'll have chicken stock available in 1 or 2 tablespoon portions and won't have to open a whole can or box of stock for a small amount. Chicken stock is a good substitution for higher fat options in cooking. In this case, I substituted chicken stock for butter so the vegetables wouldn't stick. Added late in the cooking process, it also becomes a flavorful part of the sauce.

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