Winter meals don’t get more comforting than this…Trofie Pasta with Pesto, Crispy Brussels Sprout Chips and Bacon. Today I’m sharing my inspiration for this pasta dish along with a great list of Winter-y recipes that all include seasonal produce -great for meal planning in the busy holiday season.
This bowl of comfort takes me right back to Italy one year ago. We were traveling between towns and decided to hop of the train to visit a little village high up on a hill of the Cinque Terre. Corniglia, a tiny town known for it’s wine, is perched up on a cliff with magnificent views of the bright blue sea. It was raining the day we were there, so no magnificent views, but we still decided to make the trek. After pushing our stroller up the hill to town, all three of us wet from head to toe, we spotted an open cafe to warm up in. It was still morning hours but after a couple cups of coffee we opted for a big bowl of pasta.
That morning we ordered the Trofie Pesto Pasta, Trofie al Pesto, (theirs was not topped with Brussels or Bacon but just a simple pasta with pesto). This region of Italy is known for it’s Pesto, which we had yet to try. They often serve this fresh made basil sauce over a pasta called trofie pasta. Imagine little magical twirls of pasta that perfectly soak in all of the flavor of the region – this is trofie pasta. Since then we have found this type of pasta locally at a market that imports goods from Europe. If you can’t find it though, feel free to sub with any other pasta (dye cut pastas are the best for really attracting the flavor of sauces).
That day, in the rain, with our bowl-ful of pesto pasta before 11 am, we made a memory. With little children, time flies so fast and you really have to grasp onto these moments. This holiday season I hope to find those moments, not the curated ones but the moments that just happen and you never forget them. May my eyes be open to them, and my heart be ready for laughter and whim.
About the Dish
Trofie Pasta can be found at European import markets or could be subbed for another pasta. If using another pasta I recommend a bronze dye-cut pasta (find this on the label) which absorb the flavors of the sauce more. For the Brussels Sprouts, I pull off as many of the leaves from the outside as I can and then roast those leaves in the oven until they’re crispy (creating a crispy little leaf chip). What’s leftover of the Brussels I cut in half and then sauté in some of the bacon grease after cooking the bacon. The result of the two is full flavored mini sprouts along with crispy brussels sprout chips (think kale chips but smaller!). Serve the hot pasta topped with all of the Brussels and the crispy bacon.
Involve the Kids
My three year old loves to peel the leaves off of the Brussels so if you’re kids like to get involved in the kitchen put them to work with a bowl of Brussels and another bowl to put the leaves in. Being a part of this process also makes him more likely to want to eat Brussels Sprouts which is a win win for me! He loves the Brussels Sprout Chips so much so that I can hardly keep any to use for topping the pasta! During dinner we showed him photos of us eating this pasta in Italy and told him the full story. This super easy meal was made easier with the hands of my 3 year old and also made special by the story to match with it.
- 8-10 ounces pasta, we use Italian trofie pasta*
- 1/4-1/3 cup pesto
- 12-15 Brussels Sprouts
- 3 pieces bacon
- 1/3 cup Parmesan, optional
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.
Cut the bottoms off of each Brussels Sprout. Set a large bowl out and start peeling the leaves off the outsides of the Brussels, placing the leaves in the bowl (a great kitchen activity for kids!).Cut the mini interior sprouts (what's left of each Brussels Sprout) in half and set aside in another bowl. Use kitchen scissors to cut the bacon into smaller strips or squares.
Heat up a large skillet over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook the bacon on one side for 3-4 minutes or until starting to curl then flip the pieces over. Cook for another 2 or so minutes then remove to a paper towel lined plate. Spoon out a tablespoon of the bacon grease onto the Brussels Sprout Leaves and stir to combine. Add the mini Brussels Sprout halves (not the leaves) to the pan that you cooked the bacon in cut side down and sauté for 3 minutes then stir and cook another 3 minutes or until slightly brown then remove form the heat. Meanwhile, add a little salt and pepper to the Brussels leaves and spread out onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 10-12 minutes or until crisp.
While the Brussels Sprout leaves roast, heat up a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add in the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions 8-10 minutes. Drain all but 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Stir in the pesto, using the pasta cooking liquid to create more of a sauce (also the pasta will continue to absorb liquid). Add in the parmesan and stir. aste and adjust seasoning with extra salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish then top the hot pasta with the Brussels Sprouts, Brussels Sprout Chips, and bacon.
You can use any pasta for this recipe but I recommend using one that's bronze dye cut (you can find this on the label). These pastas absorb the flavors in the sauce better. Italian Trofie pasta can be found at European markets.
In between all of the decadence of the season we all need to eat some real food, right?! Here are some great ideas for Winter-y meals:
Roasted Persimmon Ice Cream by Cafe Johnsonia
Pomegranate Vinaigrette by Joy Food Sunshine
Potato Leek Soup with Italian Sausage by Completely Delicious
Winter Greens with Pomegranate Seeds and Olives by Letty’s Kitchen
Asian Kale Power Salad by She Likes Food
Crunchy Apple-Pear Salad with Pomegranate, Pine Nuts & Yogurt by Simple Bites
Pesto Pasta with Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Bacon by Vintage Mixer
Winter Fruit and Yogurt Breakfast Bowls with Gingerbread Granola by Floating Kitchen
Mini Cranberry Orange Cheesecakes with Gingersnap Crust by Flavor the Moments
Beet and Root Vegetable Tian with Apple Cider Reduction by Food for my Family