Whole wheat orecchiette, crispy charred brussels sprouts, salty pancetta, and sautéed shiitake mushrooms get cloaked in a creamy carbonara sauce for an absolutely irresistible pasta.
This recipe has made it official.
I don’t even know if I can admit to this after complaining and kvetching and professing my dislike for the dastardly, bitter little clusters of Brussels sprouts for lo’ these many years.
And now, here I am. Posting a full-on recipe of my very own choosing. And worse, my cravings.
Excuse me? Did I just admit to craving Brussels sprouts? Hell hath frozen over. Or maybe that was Boston?
This year I’m pleased as punch to be working again with DeLallo Foods and sharing some of my favorite products of theirs with you.
I’m a big pasta fan, but not a huge whole wheat pasta fan. Unless it’s DeLallo whole wheat pasta. The texture, the flavor, it all adds up to a meal where I am more than happy to add the extra fiber and whole grains to the family dinner table without any sort of sideways looks from the rest of the fam.
In fact, when I made this pasta to take the photos, Smudge had a few friends over and they all not only didn’t bat an eye at the idea of whole wheat pasta but they ate they ate every last one of the Brussels sprouts and then asked for seconds. Extra nutrition and happy young eaters? This recipe is a win-win all the way around.
About the Recipe
There are several saving graces to this Brussels sprouts based recipe. Saving graces that make it a recipe I’ve made more than once—say what????? Yep, this hater is now *shhh* a lover. The first would be giving those little leaves a good crispy, crunchy char. Browning them takes away a bit of the bitter flavor and salting them as they char makes them crispy and gives them a great punch of flavor. Just like chocolate!
The next saving grace is sliced shiitake mushrooms. I love anything with mushrooms and while they aren’t usually in a traditional carbonara, they make a welcome appearance here.
But now, let’s get back back to the classic flavors of carbonara with crisped pancetta and salty cheese in a creamy sauce. Mixing the egg yolks into the pasta really, really well is the key. It’s what gives the sauce its body, and, you don’t want to take a bite into boiled egg yolk instead of a creamy sauce.
The whole wheat orecchiette is boiled to al dente then cooked for another minute or two in the sauce of reserved pasta water and melted butter. Oh, how that lovely sauce permeates and drapes each little ear of pasta. Penne or shell pasta would work well here too.
- 10 ounces DeLallo whole wheat orecchiette
- 2 tablespoons DeLallo extra virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces brussels sprouts, trimmed and leaves separated
- 3 ounces pancetta, chopped
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 large egg yolks, beaten
- Bring a medium sauce pan of water to a boil and season generously with kosher salt. Add the DeLallo whole wheat orecchiette and cook until al dente. Drain and reserve the pasta water.
- While the pasta is cooking, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large, high sided sauté pan over high heat. Add the brussels sprouts leaves and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the leaves are lightly charred, turning occasionally. Season with kosher salt and transfer to a bowl.
- Heat the last tablespoon of olive oil in the pan over medium high heat and cook the pancetta until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for another 3 minutes. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
- Lower the temperature and add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to the pan and then add 1 tablespoon of the butter at a time, whisking until the sauce is smooth and adding more pasta water until the sauce thickens and becomes silky. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook for about 2 minutes then add the parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Add the beaten eggs and stir into the pasta until totally incorporated into the pasta. Add the charred brussels sprout leaves and garnish with more parmesan and serve.
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Make it a great day and cook something good.
This post is part of my partnership with DeLallo Foods. As always, thank you for reading and for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. All opinions are always my own.
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