It’s the first big rain of the season. And nothing is more comforting that a huge pile of pasta and vegetables, occasionally smothered in cheese. This baked brussels sprouts pasta is the perfect dinner to welcome the change in seasons and warm you from the inside out. All while warming up the house because the stove and the oven are on in the kitchen. Passive heating for the win.
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Now that Halloween is over, the holidays are 100% on my mind. This time is of year is full of adventures, family, and lots of eating. Interesting how the last three months of the year have major holidays centered around good (at least here in the US). As I start planning my Thanksgiving dinner, and my Christmas dinner, I always think about the composition of the meal. In my opinion, you need a combination of the following.
In terms of Thanksgiving, the turkey, stuffing/dressing, and gravy are pretty standard. Often, these are the non-negotiables of tradition. The recipes don’t change from year to year. I always make the same cornbread stuffing but add a few vegetables here and there.
New Twists on Old Favorites
You may always have macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes at your holiday table. This category includes new recipes for those standards. Maybe it’s a vegan mac and cheese to make everyone feel welcome. Or a green bean casserole from scratch. These dishes stretch your creativity but have a familiar flavor.
This is by far my favorite category. They can be as tame as this baked brussels sprouts pasta, incorporating familiar fall elements that complement your holiday menu. Or they can be as far reaching as curry smashed potatoes, carrot ginger soup, or butternut lentil soup. The choice is yours, and that’s the most exciting and fun component.
Baked Brussels Sprouts Pasta with Walnut Sauce
For this brussels sprouts pasta, I used this beautiful whole wheat torchiette pasta from Community Grains. They have amazing flavor, interesting texture, and a really fun shape that clings to the sauce. Community Grains traces their product from the farm, to the mill, to the flour, to your pasta.
And you can follow along! Each box has an 8-digit code that you can type in on their website to learn more about the specific harvest and milling. My torchiette were made with Patwin hard white winter wheat; harvested on July 20, 2015; milled on April 11, 2016; grown about 20 miles from my house! Pretty cool.
The flavor of quality whole wheat pasta really adds a punch to this brussels sprouts pasta. And so do the brussels sprouts. I was lucky enough to buy a stalk of sprouts from the farmers market that had tender, small sprouts. I like my mini cabbages extra small as I find they haven’t yet developed tough, bitter characteristics. Which makes them more appealing to those who shy away from bitter flavors.
I was inspired by a cookbook that came out last year that I picked up from the library, Cara Mangini’s The Vegetable Butcher (<-affiliate). There was a recipe for a broccoli and radicchio rigatoni with creamy walnut pesto. I had every intention of making that recipe, but when I saw the brussels sprout stalk, I quickly changed my plan. And then, because of how I cook, I made a few tweaks and changes as I went along with the addition of the caramelized onions, making more of a sauce of the walnut pesto.
I’m perfectly pleased with the resulting baked brussels sprouts pasta and hope you’ll give it a whirl for a weekend dinner or your next holiday meal.
Baked Brussels Sprouts Pasta with Walnut Sauce
Brussels Sprouts Pasta
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 pounds brussels sprouts
- 10 to 16- ounces whole wheat pasta
- 2 cups walnuts
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 cup pasta water
- 1/2 cup shredded pecorino or parmesan cheese or 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Heat oven to 350°F.
Heat a thick bottomed pan over medium heat. Add onions with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Reduce heat to low and let onions cook gently while you prepare the other ingredients. Stir occasionally until caramelized, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Heat a large pot of water and bring to a rolling boil. When water is boiling, add a generous amount of salt. Then add walnuts and boil for 10 minutes.
While walnuts are boiling, trim the ends off the Brussels sprouts and cut into halves or quarters, depending on their size.
In a large bowl, toss brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a roasting pan and roast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until just tender.
Use a skimmer to remove boiled walnuts and transfer into a food processor. Add 1 1/2 cups of the water to the walnuts, garlic, 1/2 cup olive oil, nutritional yeast or cheese, and crushed red pepper to the food processor. Pulse a few times to combine, then process on high speed until ingredients are well combined in a sauce.
Cook pasta according to directions in the remaining walnut water.
When pasta is cooked, combine with walnut sauce and brussels sprouts. Transfer to a baking dish. Top with caramelized onions.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes until heated through. Serve immediately.
Recipe inspired by Cara Mangini’s The Vegetable Butcher (<-affiliate link)
Using a food processor makes a sort of walnut ricotta. I like the texture it provides in this baked brussels sprouts pasta. However, if you want a really smooth alfredo style sauce, you’ll need to make a few adjustments to the walnut sauce. First, soak the walnuts overnight. Then add a bit more water when making the sauce, and use a high speed blender.
I love the caramelized onions on top of the pasta. They add a savory sweetness to the dish and complement the bitterness of the brussels sprouts. While you’re at it, caramelize a few more onions and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge to use throughout the week.
Keep it vegan by using nutritional yeast instead of cheese in the walnut sauce.
Substitute the pasta for your favorite gluten free variety, or use brown rice to make a casserole instead. Cook 1 1/2 cups of short grain brown rice for this dish to keep the proportions the same.
Ground turkey or italian sausage would complement this brussels sprouts pasta nicely. Be sure to cook your meats before adding to the pasta prior to baking.
CHECK THE FRIDGE
Have some other ingredients? Roasted cabbage, turnips, parsnips, or carrots would also be delicious this baked brussels sprouts pasta. You can roast them alongside the brussels sprouts or in place of.
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