October 25, 2011

Hazelnut Pesto Pasta with Brussels Sprouts

Roasted brussels sprouts are a warming and delightful way to enjoy one of the best flavors of Fall. When tossed with a non-traditional, earthy sauce of hazelnut pesto, the combination becomes a hearty nod to the lingering days of summer, too.

The hazelnut pesto is more grounded and mellow than the usual all-basil pesto due to its use of parsley instead. Since the flavors of the sauce are so balanced, the tender and toasty brussels sprouts really shine.
Sauteing the sprouts creates a delightful and mildly addicting brown crust on each bite. This delectable pasta dish is a welcome canvas for these often (sadly) misunderstood and too-often cast aside, but truly scrumptious, baby cabbages.

Pasta with Hazelnut Pesto and Brussels Sprouts: makes 4-6 servings
1 3/4 cups packed fresh flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup packed basil
2/3 cups toasted hazelnuts
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 cup olive oil, plus additional as needed
1 recipe fresh egg pasta, prepared as linguine, or 1 box dried linguine
1 lb. fresh brussels sprouts (heads should be small, tight, with no brown)
Shaved Parmesan cheese

Rinse the brussels sprouts and drain. Trim the bottom portion of each sprout, keeping the base intact, then quarter each. Heat 2 T. olive oil in a large pan over medium low heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the sprouts.
Gently toss the sprouts every few minutes to keep from burning. Saute until they are lightly browned and tender, 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, set a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. While the water is heating, make the pesto by adding all of the ingredients from the parsley through the olive oil to the food processor. Process until completely blended, scraping down the sides as necessary. When the water has come to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to the directions until barely al-dente.

Using a pasta ladle, spoon all of the noodles directly into the pan with the brussels sprouts. Pour the hazelnut pesto sauce over the noodles and pesto and toss well. The pasta will finish cooking in the sauce. Add kosher salt to taste and serve topped with generous shavings of Parmesan cheese.

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