Sprouts with Pancetta, Garlic and Hazelnuts

Sprout and PancettaLast week I extolled the virtues of encouraging kids to eat raw green vegetables by cutting courgettes to resemble the ever amusing spaghetti shape.  So I pushed it, and tried the kid on shredded (then very lightly steamed) sweetheart cabbage,  the response was ‘peegetti!’, ‘yes, of course, it’s green spaghetti!’, she loved it.  Next stop sprouts.

It often seems that the smaller and more strongly flavoured vegetables are more potent in plant polyphenols (cell protecting), antioxidants and minerals, chillis, garlic and sprouts all fall into this (very generalised and not scientific) categorisation.  The idea of sprouts having a bad reputation is really old fashioned, sprouts, as with all vegetables, will be horrid if they are overcooked and mushy.  Cook them with a bit of respect and love however, and you have a surprising and delicious note to add to your repertoire.  Here I create a highly flavoured pancetta and garlic mix, to lightly cook finely shredded sprouts in.  I say ‘cook’ but it’s more of a warming through and slight wilting, and retains so much of the original sprout loveliness- more vitamin C gram for gram than an orange and loads of plant based viatmin A- an anti ageing dream for those of us trying to retain our youth (in any way possible), and you might just get them past your children without them noticing!

I tossed the vegetable mix through al dente linguine, to create a light dinner- made a bit special with a topping of toasted hazelnuts and parmesan, but this would be equally good, minus the linguine, as a sprouty side dish to some simply prepared fish or chicken.

Sprout and pancetta pasta

Ingredients – serves 2

250-300g Brussels sprouts, shredded, stalky bits discarded

100g pancetta, diced

2 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tblspn avocado or olive oil

250-300g pasta

Handful of grated parmesan

2 tblspns toasted chopped hazelnuts (buy the prepared ones in a bag)

Salt and black pepper


In a frying pan gently heat the oil and pancetta over a low heat, stirring often to release the flavourful juices from the meat.  It will brown, after 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente, drain and set aside.

When the pancetta has slowly sizzled and is lightly browned, remaining on a low heat, add the garlic and stir until translucent and cooked, but not browned.  Add the sprouts and a very good grind of black pepper, tossing through the oil well to coat and heat the shredded greens.  After 3-4 minutes, add the pasta to the lightly wilted sprout mixture, and mix well.

Scatter each serving with parmesan, and or hazelnuts – I’d go for both.

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Categories: Dairy Free Family Recipes, Warming Winter Meals

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