Spaghetti with brussel sprouts, pancetta and hazelnuts


Brussel sprouts. Love them or hate them, right? Well, I used to be a hater. But this recipe, which I picked up at an Italian cookery course, has saved my relationship with the little green bundles. 

Rather than being cooked to smithereens as tradition would have it, this dish introduces a refreshingly crisp, blanched version of the sprouts. If you’re a loather of brussel sprouts, try this – and be amazed.

Serves 2:
200 g brussel sprouts
1 clove of garlic
zest of 1 lemon + a squeeze of lemon juice
75 g pancetta or bacon, in cubes
50 g hazelnuts
vegetable or chicken stock, powdered
salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Chop the hazelnuts, transfer to a baking sheet and roast them in the oven for 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on them – they burn easily. Take them out when they are browned and fragrant.

2. Take the bottom off the sprouts, then halve them and peel off all the green leafy bits layer by layer, then discard the heart of the sprout. Rinse the beautiful green leaves in a sieve and take care to dry them properly. Chop the garlic finely and grate the lemon.

3. For the pasta, bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Meanwhile, fry the pancetta in a pan until dark and crunchy-looking. Transfer to a plate with kitchen towel.  (The pasta should now be boiling away in the pot).

4. In the remaining pancetta fat, fry the brussel sprouts and garlic for a couple of minutes. Add lemon zest and 2-3 tablespoons of the pasta water along with a teaspoon of powdered stock. Steam the sprouts for a couple of minutes in the pasta water until most of the liquid has evaporated.

5. Take the pan off the heat, add seasoning and a squeeze of lemon juice. When the pasta is done, drain it and toss it with the sprouts and the pancetta. Plate up and add hazelnuts, grated parmesan, and more pepper.

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