Brussels Sprouts and Breadcrumb Pasta


I didn’t grow up liking brussels sprouts, and in fact I’m not even sure I dared to try them as a kid.  But one thanksgiving my aunt made a recipe I just had to try.  It paired them with pancetta, and from there the love affair took off.  This recipe is a bit different, but uses the same concept with elbow macaroni.  So if you’ve never been a huge fan, try this recipe and it may just convert you too.

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Brussels Sprouts and Breadcrumb Pasta
12 oz brussels sprouts, chopped in half
1/2 c panko breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
4 slices of bacon, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 c elbow macaroni, cooked and drained

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Add brussels sprouts to a baking sheet, toss with 2 tbs olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Lay panko breadcrumbs on top of the brussels sprouts then drizzle more olive oil on top so they will get golden in the oven.  Roast for 30 minutes.  While the brussels sprouts are roasting heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add bacon and cook for 3 minutes till it starts to get crispy, drain all but 2 tbs of fat.  Add shallot and cook until translucent, then add roasted brussels sprouts and cooked elbow macaroni.  Toss to combine, then serve.


Chicken And Spinach Pasta


I really love pasta.  It’s one of those comfort foods for me that just never gets old.  Occasionally I like meatballs and spaghetti, but most other times I want something without a red sauce.  I like marinara, but there is a time and a place.  Most of the time I like to experiment with sauces by using olive oil, white wine, pumpkin, or in this case “butter” and pancetta.  Although I didn’t use a lot of either ingredient it’s enough to provide a stable flavor foundation.  On top of those firm flavors I added garlic and spinach, two things when combined with just each other make a lasting impact.  Try this recipe today for something different than a traditional pasta recipe with red sauce.

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Chicken And Spinach Pasta
4 ounces pancetta, chopped
2 tbs vegan butter (suggested: earth balance)
2 c baby portabella mushrooms, chopped
1 c onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb ground chicken
4 c frozen spinach, thawed and ringed of excess water
1 c chicken broth
1 (12 ounce) box of whole wheat or gluten free pasta

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, cook pasta according to package instructions.  Before draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of starchy cooking water.  Set pasta aside.

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add pancetta and cook until crisp, use a slotted spoon to move pancetta to a paper towel lined plate.  Add 1 tbs butter, mushrooms, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste.  Cook until onions and mushrooms soften, about 3 minutes.  Add ground chicken, break up and cook until browned.  Once chicken has browned add frozen spinach, chicken broth, 1/2 c starching cooking liquid and remaining 1 tbs of butter.  Let liquid reduce for 4 minutes, then add pasta and toss to combine.

Sweet Potato Soup

DF, V if w/out pancetta, GF

This is one of my new favorite soups, perfect for the cold weather and holiday parties. It can stay warm over low heat, so each guest can have a warm bowl no matter when they arrive.  The sweet potato makes the soup smooth and velvety without the addition of cream. And with the addition of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg it warms your soul.

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Sweet Potato Soup

3 medium slices of pancetta, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery, diced
1/2 large red pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs rosemary, chopped
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
2 bay leaves
4 c chicken stock
3 large sweet potatoes, cooked (microwave, then remove flesh from the skin)
1 tbs maple syrup
olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil over medium high heat, add pancetta and cook till crisp,  then remove from pot,  set aside.  Add onion, carrots, celery, red pepper, garlic and rosemary and cook over medium high heat. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, bay leaves and salt and pepper. Let cook for 5 minutes to develop flavor.  Add sweet potatoes and 1/2 water to food processor, puree.  Add chicken stock, pureed sweet potato, maple syrup, and pancetta.  Let simmer for 30 minutes then serve.