brussels sprouts and pancetta pasta

david and i are about to head off on holiday and i’ve been trying to fit in a few traditional christmas foodstuffs – namely mince pies and brussels sprouts.

my favourite mince pies are from konditor and cook and are a delicious indulgence (if you are treating yourself, make sure you choose the standard box of twelve which is £3 cheaper than the baker’s dozen gift box which has a ribbon and badge on it to justify the extra cost!).

my brussels sprouts made their way into a quick and easy past dish – tagliatelle with brussels sprouts, pancetta and pine nuts. i would have used chestnuts in place of pine nuts but didn’t have a way to use up a full 200g pack, so this variation will have to wait until the new year.

i think the key to this dish is to make sure the pasta doesn’t overwhelm everything else – i used quite a lot of garlic, a generous amount of chilli and more sprouts and pancetta than i thought i’d need. the result was delicious and festive, and a good way to try brussels if you’re not already convinced about their loveliness. 

i’m sharing this dish with kirsten, from kirsten’s kitchen to yours, who is hosting 2010’s final edition of presto pasta nights.

tagliatelle with brussels sprouts, pancetta and pine nuts (serves 2)

tagliatelle for two

olive oil

100g smoked pancetta – cubes or rashers, cut into pieces

6 shallots, thinly sliced (or a small red onion)

1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

c20 brussels sprouts, outer layers removed and finely shredded

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

cook your pasta.

heat a tablespoon of olive oil and cook the pancetta for a few minutes. add the shallots, garlic and chilli and cook until the pancetta is crispy and the onion soft (keep an eye on the heat so it doesn’t burn, it’ll be particularly nice if you let the onion caramelise around the edges). add the brussels sprouts, season and sauté  for a minute or so. add a small amount of water, cover and cook until the sprouts are ready – no more than five minutes.

toss the cooked pasta with sprouts and pancetta mix, adding a little of the pasta cooking water to ensure its not too dry. check the seasoning then serve, sprinkled with toasted pine nuts and grated parmesan.