Brussels Sprout Pancetta Pasta

I’m exhausted! I finally finished my wedding thank-you notes. But I’m mostly tired because I just spent 2 straight days baking Christmas cookies. I usually bring them to work and hand out to any friends we can find a time to see before the holidays.

My aunt kindly lets me “borrow” her kitchen for a weekend since she has two ovens and a lot of room. It makes for some fun time to catch up with her while I get everything done.

I like to go all out when I do these cookies. I usually make at least 8 varieties, and I like a good mix of shapes and flavors. I think this year I may have gone a little too far. Some of these recipes were more complicated than I realized, and given my strict timeline I barely had time to eat during the baking extravaganza.

Brussels Sprout Pancetta Pasta

At one point I literally felt like I was going to faint. I texted this to Nate (since he was back in NY at our apt) and he replied “You don’t have to be a hero. It’s just Xmas cookies. You ain’t a cat surgeon.” L.C. is thankful for that, I’m sure. And my husband is obviously a wise, wise man.

I ended up finishing all but one type of the cookies that I needed to make. That’s a no-bake one so I can do it back at my apt. All-in-all, a productive two days!

Is it weird that I woke up with sore muscles today? I guess standing for 12 hours will do that to you, not to mention mixing by hand since there was no kitchen aid mixer (I did use a handheld mixer for some stuff).

Anyway, speaking of Nate and his sage advice, I think I’ve mentioned this before but periodically, he will email me recipes from the NYTimes that he “advises” me to make. I appreciate when he does this since the NYTimes recipes are usually very reliable (I’m trying not to hold it against them that they overlooked our wedding announcement!).

Brussels Sprout Pancetta Pasta

So when Nate sent me a recipe the other day for Penne with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta, I knew that it would be as delicious as it sounded.

There are many foods Nate doesn’t eat, despite the fact that he claims to not be a picky eater, but luckily for me he happens to love brussels! After discovering what is now one of our annual family Thanksgiving recipes, my family has decided that brussels are much tastier when shredded. So when I saw this recipe I had no doubt it would be a winner.

Brussels Sprout Pancetta Pasta

Penne with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta

Slightly adapted from the NYTimes

Print this recipe!

Serves 4

Sea salt
16 ounces penne
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
6 ounces pancetta, diced
2 large rosemary sprig
8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
Freshly ground black pepper
20 ounces fresh brussels sprouts, thinly sliced or shredded (i used the shredding plate on a food processor)
4 teaspoons butter
Fresh lemon juice, for serving
Freshly grated pecorino cheese (optional)

Bring large pot heavily salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until pasta is just al dente (do not overcook).

Meanwhile, heat large sauté pan over high heat and add the olive oil. When oil is hot, add the pancetta and rosemary, and sauté until the fat on the pancetta starts to turn translucent and very lightly brown, about 1 minute.

Add the garlic,and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and sauté until garlic and pancetta turn richly brown, about 3 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts, a large pinch of salt and a splash of water to pan, and sauté until sprouts just start to soften, about 2 minutes. Spread sprouts mixture in pan and press down to flatten. Let it sear for a minute, then stir it up and repeat. This helps brown the sprouts. Add the butter, and sauté for another minute.

Drain penne and add it to pan with brussels sprouts mixture. Cook, tossing, until everything is well mixed. Spoon into pasta bowls and top with a drizzle of oil and lemon juice, and a little cheese if you like.



  1. Believe it or not, I just tore this out of the NYTimes and made it too. Great minds think alike. And it was delicious – a good choice. You sound like you went into cookie overdrive although I’m sure Nate was happy to eat the mis-shapen ones.

    • wow, really? Haha, what a coincidence. There weren’t a ton of mis-shapen ones and Nate was in NY, so I only brought a few home for him. He’ll get more when I go to package these up. They’re sitting in Aunt Ruth’s freezer right now.

  2. Oh YUM! I’m really digging brussels sprouts these days and the pancetta brings this recipe to a whole new level of love! ;-). Pasta is one of those danger foods for me… love it, love it, love it, but….can’t stop eating it so I tend to avoid it. What a happy relief you must feel to have finished up your thank yous… (pretty quick too, nice work!) busy time of year to begin with so I can just imagine the fatigue factor. Hope you find a bit of chill time. (wait till you have kids – baaaaaaaahaaahaaha! Oops! didn’t mean to laugh quite that loud :)). Delicious recipe Amy!

    • I love brussels too! They’re so good just halved and roasted with some evoo and s/p. Pasta is a danger food for me too. Honestly, I end up eating SO much right after I drain it when it has absolutely nothing on it…how pathetic is that?! I try to tell myself that Nate needs the pasta for fuel and that keeps me from too much overindulging. Haha, I don’t even know how i’ll manage once I have kids!

  3. Your blog is so cute! I love food and elephants, so I am inspired to follow you based on that alone. :)
    Also, penne with brussel sprouts seems like a total win. Looks so yummy!

  4. oh this is SUCH comfort food for me! And i’m not a big meat eater, but i love pancetta and pasta combos, for whatever reason. I make one every year – a Gordon Ramsay recipe – with peas and pancetta, and it is perfect for sitting around in the cold with. now if it would ONLY GET COLD. :)

    • Pancetta definitely makes everything better…i mean except maybe dessert. Although with all these bacon/dessert combos going around, maybe it would work there too! Ooh, the pea and pancetta dish sounds amazing. I love peas but Nate hates them, so I never end up cooking with them :(

  5. I HATE baking cookies in my apartment because I have a 3/4 oven that doesn’t fit a full cookie sheet. Awful.

    But I love brussels sprouts. LOVE. This pasta sounds awesome!

    • oh my gosh, I feel your pain, Joanne. I used to have a small oven too, but thankfully when I moved apartments I now have a full-sized one…but it’s still not the same as having two ovens and tons of counter space! I’m dreaming of living in the ‘burbs some day soon…

  6. I laughed out loud when I read Nate’s text to you. Nice to put things in perspective sometimes. :) I’ve totally been there killing myself cooking before, though. Glad you made it through. I really wish my husband would send me recipes like this to make. Usually he’s asking me to pick up some more cinnamon Life cereal on my way home so he can have that for dinner.

    • Hehe, Nate cracks me up on a daily basis :) Usually the recipes Nate sends me are great…but about 40% of the time they’re super complex and since he doesn’t cook he has no clue when he’s looking at it. He just thinks that it sounds good ;) I can’t believe you guys eat cereal for dinner!

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