Bubbling away on the stove, all the flavors come together for a vibrant, lemony, fresh sauce. In every forkful, the nooks of the pasta hold in the bits of smoky pancetta and citrusy Brussels sprouts.
By Kara and Marni Powers
In the world of pasta, there is an abundance of fun shapes, both whimsical and often strategically paired with sauces and other add-ins. Whether opting for farfalle “butterflies,” rotelle “wheels,” our childhood favorite, or our recent amusement, gemelli “twins,” there is a shape for any palate. While long, flat pastas mesh well with smooth sauces, shaped pastas best capture textured sauces.
In Florence, we first tried orecchiette “small ears,” and they oddly enough appear to be just that. The small concave circles pair perfectly with one of our family’s favorite fall-time vegetables, Brussels sprouts. After frying some pancetta, we throw in the vibrant green halved spheres and let them crisp and caramelize slightly with sauteed onions. Bubbling away on the stove, all the flavors come together for a vibrant, lemony, fresh sauce. In every forkful, the nooks of the pasta hold in the bits of smoky pancetta and citrusy Brussels sprouts.
- 1 pound orecchiette
- 6 ounces pancetta, finely diced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- ½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends removed and halved
- 1½ cups chicken broth
- zest and juice of of 1 lemon
- freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for serving
- salt and pepper
- Boil a large pot of salted water.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crispy, about 4 minutes.
- Spoon out the pancetta from the pan and set aside.
- Lower the heat to medium and add 2 Tablespoons olive oil.
- Add the onion and sautee until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and Brussels sprouts and sautee for an additional 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the orecchiette to the boiling salted water.
- Add the chicken broth to the skillet and let simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the Brussels sprouts are slightly browned and the broth has reduced.
- Add the reserved pancetta, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the skillet and stir.
- Once the pasta is al dente, drain and add it to the skillet and toss with the sauce for a couple minutes.
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Kara and Marni Powers are twin sister cooks, dining and blogging their way through Boston's North End and beyond. They see the act of cooking and entertaining as a form of creative expression, an art that encourages the mixing of flavors, spices, techniques and stories. Their interest in cooking dates back to their Greek grandmother’s open-arms approach, letting them taste her savory creations like her famous spanakopita. Kara and Marni's fascination with food and culture continued during their travels abroad in Europe where they saw firsthand the limitlessness of cooking.