In my early twenties, I worked at a gourmet kitchen store with a woman who had just tasted olive oil for the first time on a trip to Greece. She told me she didn't like it at all. The flavor was "overwhelmingly strong", and emphasized the nastiness through a hard squint of her eyes. That was back in the early '70s, and olive oil wasn't a mainstream ingredient yet... at least at the Kansas City grocery stores I frequented and within my group of friends. I had never used olive oil, and after my co-worker's critique wasn't in any hurry to do so. The same imprint was made on my brain at some point to dislike Brussels Sprouts. It's a vegetable I don't remember my mother ever making. And hearing negative comments from others about Brussels Sprouts, I decided I probably would not care for this little cruciferous vegetable myself. No need to even try them. Fortunately, I have learned and changed much over the years. I don't let people influence me anymore. At least when it comes to food.
I finally cooked Brussels Sprouts for the first time about seven years ago. Since then, it's grown into a full-blown love affair. When I found this recipe for Spaghetti with Brussels Sprouts and Sausage Bread Crumbs, I made it immediately. Then I made it again, and again one more time, all in the span of two weeks. I absolutely love this pasta dish. The squeeze of fresh lemon juice just before serving is the crowning jewel. My husband, unfortunately, doesn't share my ability or desire to eat the same foods over and over again. What's up with that? He likes a dish, but is then ready to move on to something else. I, on the other hand, would be quite satisfied having this pasta once a week (at least).
+ adapted recipe from Food & Wine
recipe serves 4
• 1/2 pound spaghetti
• 1 pound Brussels Sprouts, cleaned and sliced
• 1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
• 2 to 3 scallion, white and light green parts sliced thin
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• Good quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing
• Fresh lemon juice
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a large pinch of salt and cook the pasta until al dente.
2. In the meantime... warm the olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Add the pork sausage and Brussels Sprouts to the pan. Over medium heat, cook the mixture until the the pork sausage is cooked through and beginning to brown. Add the panko and cook until crisp. Stir in the sliced scallion and season to taste with salt and freshly-ground pepper.
3. Drain the spaghetti and divide between four bowls. Drizzle each with some extra-virgin olive oil and top with the Brussels Sprouts and Sausage Breadcrumb mixture. Finish with a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice and serve.
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