Monday, December 29, 2008

veggie obsession: brussels sprouts pasta

The only vegetable that I eat more often than cauliflower is probably brussels sprouts. This is partly because they are literally the easiest vegetable to make. They require barely any prep, will cook in a myriad of simple ways, are best with little adornment, and make you feel like a giant. I also recently read that brussels sprouts are the "it" vegetable right now, I guess in the restaurant world they're what fennel was last year. As proof, I had an amazing crostini at 'inoteca last week featuring shaved brussels sprouts, lemon oil, and I think a bit of pecorino cheese. A couple of days later I had a pizza with brussels sprouts and speck at Motorino. Both were freaking fantastic.

This recipe for Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Pine Nuts takes the diminutive wild cabbage one step further into the spotlight for a main dish, offset with toasted pine nuts and served with simply seared diver scallops. Recipes after the jump:

1 pound fettuccine, preferably fresh
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 pints brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the brussels sprouts with 2 tsp olive oil and generously salt and pepper. Place in a baking pan and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until tender and lightly charred. You can toast the pine nuts during the last 5 minutes but watch them carefully as they should not be over browned.

In the meantime, bring 4 quarts of salted water to boil for the pasta. When pasta is ready, drain and add to a large mixing bowl with the remaining olive oil, the butter, the brussels sprouts and the pine nuts. Toss to coat well, and taste for salt and pepper. Serve with grated parmesan.

The best scallops for searing are "dry" scallops. The "wet" scallops are treated for moisture and will never develop a good brown sear. Despite being dry, you should still pat your scallops dry with a paper towel before cooking to insure the best sear.

4-6 large dry scallops
1 tbsp unsalted butter or ghee
1 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper

Heat the oil and butter in a nonstick skillet over high heat until the butter foam subsides. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel, then season generously with salt and pepper. Place the scallops in the hot pan, being careful not to overcrowd them. If the scallops are too close together, they will steam instead of sear. Do not touch the scallops for at least 2 minutes to insure a good brown crust. When they are nicely browned, flip the scallops and continue to cook for another minute or two. The scallops should still be a bit springy and not too firm. The second side will not brown as nicely as the first, just serve that side down. Remove the scallops from the pan and serve immediately.


Leah said...

I love brussels sprouts too. But I will say that cauliflower is my absolute favorite veggie. In fact, you know what re-introduced me to cauliflower? That Marcella Hazan recipe for simple warm cauliflower--you know, the one with olive oil and vinegar?

This meal looks superb.

faycat said...

I do that recipe ALL THE TIME. I love that one, too. But I don't know, right now I'm leaning toward brussels sprouts as my favorite. I just made a pizza with sweet sausage and brussels sprouts and ZOMG, so good.

Leah said...

The pizza sounds incredible. What do you use for crust?