There's no other month that represents comfort food better than December. Right now it's all about soups, stews, roasts, and much more. But sometimes all that rich food is just too much to handle! (Thanksgiving was for me.) So when I crave something comforting that doesn't weigh me down, I turn to pasta.
Old fashioned spaghetti and meatballs or any other tomato sauced pasta dish is always a welcome meal around this time. But my favorite way to enjoy pasta is with simple flavors and seasonal produce. A dish like this pasta with sautéed Brussels sprouts is perfectly comforting and light, all at the same time. There aren't too many comfort foods that can be both.
This recipe is unique because the sprouts are separated into leaves and then sautéed. There's no need to worry about smelly and awful tasting sprouts since sautéing is a gentle cooking method that coaxes out all the sweet flavors of the sprouts. Red onions add additional sweetness to the dish and Parmesan cheese creates a thin sauce that clings to the pasta and vegetables. This dish is worth making now while Brussels sprouts are in season.
Pasta with Sautéed Brussels Sprouts
1/2 pound penne
fine sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound Brussels sprouts, leaves separated
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Cook pasta until al dente, a few minutes short of package directions, in liberally salted water. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
While pasta cooks, warm oil in a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add red pepper flakes and toast for 1 minute. Add Brussels sprouts and toss until wilted. Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water and cook, covered, on medium-low heat until sprouts are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add cooked pasta and combine. Season with salt and pepper. If too dry, add remaining 1/4 to 1/2 cup pasta water. Stir in Parmesan until a thin sauce forms. Serve with additional cheese. Yield: 4 servings.