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Orecchiette with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

This hearty pasta dish is truly perfect in autumn, when Brussels sprouts are at their peak of flavor.

Plus: Pasta Recipes and Tips

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

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  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts (2 ounces)
  • 2 1/2; cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • Salt
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved or quartered if large
  • 3/4 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 3 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (3 ounces)
  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast for 8 minutes, or until fragrant. Let the nuts cool, then coarsely chop them.
  2. In a small saucepan, boil the chicken stock until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 15 minutes; keep warm.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts, cover and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the Brussels sprouts and pat them dry. Return the water to a boil. Add the orecchiette and cook until al dente, 12 to 15 minutes; drain.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. Drain the bacon on paper towels. Add the butter to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until browned and nutty, about 3 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and hazelnuts and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the orecchiette along with the reduced chicken stock and simmer, stirring, until the sauce is slightly absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano cheese, season with salt and pepper and transfer to a large serving bowl. Garnish with the bacon and the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and serve.

Suggested Pairing

The smokiness of the bacon and the earthiness of the nuts in this pasta dish suggest a medium-bodied, Italian-style Sangiovese from Napa Valley.

Contributed By Photo © Livia Corona Published October 2002

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