A Sarcastic Appetite


Winter in Summer
August 11, 2009, 9:01 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I think there’s something terribly wrong with me.

On the hottest, stickiest day of the summer, when I have no plans after work and therefore all the time in the world to work up something scrumptious for dinner that doesn’t involve an oven – maybe a bright, cold soup full of healthful antioxidants that I’ll promptly cancel out with my glass or two of pinot blanc  – I instead fire up the gas stove. To make pasta. Hot pasta. With – wait for it – Brussels sprouts. Now, I have high (and hot) hopes, since Molly of Orangette fame made them and loved them – but notice the date: she made them in November. You know, around Thanksgiving.

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I adore Brussels sprouts; they make frequent appearances in my kitchen from about October all the way through March or April. If you don’t like them, you should get in touch – I saute them in butter and lots of salt and pepper until they’re browned, caramelized a bit, and they’re crunchy and nutty and delicious. They’re nothing like those overcooked, mealy specimens with which you might be all too familiar.

But it’s almost mid-August, about as far from a cold night in January as one could possibly get. And yet – it was really delicious, a happy product of its own simplicity; the most time consuming part was boiling the water. When I can throw together a really good dinner in fifteen minutes, I’m delighted – and you should be too, since I can be, um, a tad cranky and unpleasant otherwise…

I guess it was a little taste of winter in the dead heat of summer – and in that I think it did just the trick.

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Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts and Pignolis

Adapted from Gourmet, via Orangette; serves 4

about 3/4 lb. Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed

scant 1/4 c. pignolis (pine nuts), toasted

1/2 lb. fettuccine or other long, thicker pasta

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. butter

lots of salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tbsp. heavy cream, or half-and-half

heaping handful of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve

Boil a pot of heavily salted water; add the pasta and cool until al dente.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts if you haven’t already; heat them in a skillet, tossing frequently, until they are slightly browned and you can smell their nuttiness. Set aside in a bowl. Using the shredder disk in your Cuisinart, shred the Brussels sprouts.

Heat your pan to medium heat; melt the olive oil and butter before adding the Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes, until the sprouts are cooked but still vibrantly green. Once the pasta has cooked, add it to the pan, along with about 1/4 c. of the cooking water. Add the heavy cream; continue to saute, adding more salt and pepper to taste, then add the pignolis. Toss, and serve with lots of freshly grated cheese on top.

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