Silk Purse Pasta

Last night on my way home from work, I made a deal with myself: I could skip yoga if I made a very long to-do list full of stuff I’ve been avoiding and then did everything on it. (I know this sounds vaguely insane, but I’m trying to train myself to schedule exercise and then treat those appointments as sacrosanct. It’s one area where I tend to be pretty lax with myself.) (No, YOU shut up.) One of the items on the resulting list was ‘cook and eat brussels sprouts,’ meaning the bag of them in my fridge that were starting to go yellow and wouldn’t be a viable foodstuff for much longer. I figured I’d either chop them finely, saute ’em, and throw an egg on top or roast them until they turned brown and nutty.

But then I remembered that I had some very good, happy-pigs-fed-on-acorns-and-cream-and-pixie-dust bacon in the freezer. Using a slice of that and a very few pantry staples, I started playing around and ended up with something that’s almost like an eggless carbonara. Not quite as gooey and decadent, but not far off. If I’d had any white wine open, I would have splashed some in, but the combination of bacon, garlic, brussels sprouts, parmesan, and salty, starchy pasta water managed to turn into a rather splendid sauce all on its own, something I might even make on purpose in the future. Even though the extra time at the cutting board and stove meant that I didn’t get to every item on my (admittedly ridiculous) list, it was absolutely worth it, especially since I get to eat the leftovers for lunch in a few minutes.

I used that amount of sprouts that I had as a guide and ended up with two smallish servings. It would be easy to scale up though.

Silk Purse Pasta

1 slice excellent bacon, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 c. brussels sprouts, finely chopped
4 oz. spaghetti
~1/4 c. freshly grated parmesan

Set the pasta water to boil, salting it with abandon, and cook the pasta. Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium heat until browned and crispy. If it gives off a lot of fat, spoon off all but a tablespoon or so. (Or don’t. No judgment here.) Add the garlic and cook until golden. Add the sprouts, stirring to coat, and let cook until softened and browned in spots. Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of cooking liquid, and add the the sprouts. Combine, slowly adding pasta water, until mixture is voluptuously saucy. Stir in cheese, adding more water if it becomes too dry. Serve with extra cheese if desired.


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