Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Tortellini

Counting today, there are only five days left before the fall equinox is upon us and summer is officially over (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere that is). So long heirloom tomatoes, sayonara strawberries, arrivederci  zucchini, and bye bye bell peppers. Ok, so maybe not good bye, many of these veggies are available out of season at grocery stores, but they will likely soon disappear from your local farmers markets. In their place you will start seeing cool weather crops again. Favorite spring treats like spinach, broccoli, and lettuces will return for a small window. Along with them will be a fall staple often found on Thanksgiving tables: brussels sprouts!

The thing with brussels sprouts is this, you either love them or you hate them.  If you are in the “hater” crowd, I ask you this: how were they cooked? I will venture to say they were probably over cooked. You see, when these little veggies are over cooked, they get very, very bitter and have a nasty texture I can not quite put my finger on. Of course you would hate them after that experience! Want to know how I know this? Because that is what happened to me! It was years before I allowed another brussels sprout anywhere near my tastebuds.

Brussels sprouts have a very distinct and powerful flavor. A lot of people seem to notice a nutty flavor in them, particularly when roasted in the oven (and sprinkled with butter, nutmeg and brown sugar). When you steam or sauté them, like I did in the recipe I am sharing with you today, they taste a lot like cabbage with an added metallic (some would say bitter) hint. Many winter greens share this profile as well.

If you can handle the flavor, not only is your palate in for a treat, your body is, too. Being a vegetable, Brussels sprouts are naturally low cal. They are also packed to to the gills in nutrients like vitamin C, iron, folate, and fiber. Hence why a little bacon adds a nice  layer of deliciousness without causing too much damage! Bon appétit!

Brussels Sprouts with Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb Brussels Sprouts, shredded
  • 1 10 oz package cheese tortellini
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil per person for dressing
Directions
  1. Cook tortellini according to package directions. Retain 1/4-1/2 cup of the pasta water.
  2. In a large pan, cook chopped bacon over medium high heat until crispy. Remove cooked bacon and set aside on a paper towel to drain.
  3. Add sliced shallots to the pan and saute in the bacon drippings until translucent
  4. Add shredded Brussels Sprouts to pan along with 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water.  Stir until sprouts begin to soften and wilt. If needed, use the remaining  pasta water.
  5. Stir in the white balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add bacon back to pan and stir to combine.        
  7. Serve over tortellini, dressing the dish with a drizzle of olive oil.
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