Recipe: Pennette With Brussels Sprout Leaves and Bacon

I make pasta all year long with whatever vegetables are in season, and if I don't have any vegetarians eating with me a little bacon or pancetta adds richness to the dish. Even though it takes time and is a bit finicky, I love to break apart the Brussels sprouts into individual leaves and flash sauté them in the pan. It makes a great quick pasta sauce, but they are also pretty good just on their own. A quarter cup of pitted black Gaeta olives is a nice addition to the pasta if you have them on hand.

Serves 4 to 6

    • 500 grams pennette pasta (choose an artisan dried pasta such as Rustichella d'Abruzzo or Latini if you can)
    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 4 or 5 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into quarter-inch strips
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 2 pints Brussels sprouts (peel off all the leaves individually)
    • leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like)
    • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano or Grana Padano
    • salt and pepper to taste

Render the bacon with the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat until just shy of being crispy, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat up and add the Brussels sprout leaves and the minced garlic and stir briskly until the leaves are bright green and lightly wilted, about four to five minutes. Season with salt and a lot of black pepper (that's my taste). Turn off the heat. Meanwhile cook the pasta in salted water until done as per the package instructions. When drained, toss the pasta with the Brussels sprouts and bacon and all the rendered fat and olive oil from the pan. When tossed, add the cheese and toss again. Serve and eat immediately.

To read Sara's article about why she prefers dried pasta to fresh, click here.

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Sara Jenkins is based in New York City, where she has developed a reputation as a fine rustic Italian chef. She runs Porchetta, an Italian sandwich shop, and Porsena, a casual restaurant focusing on classic Italian pastas. More

Sara Jenkins is based in New York City, where she has developed a reputation as a fine rustic Italian chef. As Mario Batali put it, "She is one of the few chefs in America who understands Italy and how Italians eat." Sara is also the author, with Mindy Fox, of Olives and Oranges: Recipes and Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus, and Beyond, released by Houghton Mifflin in September 2008.

The daughter of a foreign correspondent and a food writer, Sara grew up all over the Mediterranean, eating her way through several cultures and learning to cook what appealed to her. She began her professional career in the kitchen with Todd English at Figs in Boston, then went on to work as a chef in Florence and the Tuscan countryside, as well as on the Caribbean island of Nevis, before returning to the U.S.

In New York City, Jenkins became chef at I Coppi, earning that restaurant two stars from The New York Times. After similar turns at Il Buco, Patio Dining, and 50 Carmine, she began work on her own cookbook.

In September 2008 she and her cousin Matthew opened Porchetta, a storefront in the East Village focusing on porchetta, a highly seasoned roast pork common in Italy as street food or festival food sold out of a truck as a sandwich. Porchetta has been wildly successful in New York City, both with gourmands and ordinary folk alike. Porchetta was awarded the top spot in Time Out New York's "100 best things we ate in 2008" and also received a four-star review from New York magazine.

In 2010, Sara Jenkins will open Porsena, a simple and casual restaurant down the street from Porchetta focusing on classic Italian pastas.

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