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Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Basil

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Basil


A few weeks ago Kevin at Seriously Good made some Brussels sprouts flavored with mustard and vinegar. Even though I have a longtime favorite Brussels sprouts treatment, I fell quickly under the spell of Kevin's version.

However, when you stray from your true love it usually doesn't take long before you want to go home. So tonight, faced with a bag of sprouts, I went sheepishly back to my old standby. It's been a crowd-pleaser for more than a decade so what can I do?

1 pound Brussels sprouts
2 oz pancetta, thin slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 basil leaves, shredded
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt, hot sauce to taste

Trim the base of the sprouts and remove the dirty, dried-out outer leaves. Cut each sprout in half and then with a V-shaped cut remove the core.  Grasp both sides of the sprout-half, with your thumbs on opposite sides of the core cut, and bend the sprout to spread the leaves slightly. (This technique opens the leaves of the sprouts slightly without destroying their integrity, which makes available more area, and more texture, for the added flavorings to hang on to.)

Steam sprouts 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the pancetta slices crosswise to form strips and sauté over medium high heat until the color deepens and the edges just start to brown. Remove the pan from the heat, throw in the garlic and toss for a few seconds.

When the sprouts have completed their steam, remove them to a bowl. Scrape the pancetta and garlic and any liquid or fat in the pan into the bowl with the sprouts. Add the basil and about a tablespoon of olive oil and the vinegar. Season with salt and hot sauce. Toss well to combine the ingredients and cover the bowl. Allow to rest for five minutes before serving. (The mixing of the ingredients and seasoning should be done immediately after steaming.) Toss the mixture again briefly before serving. 

For more fun with Brussels Sprouts, see:

  • Brussels Sprouts Antipasto Salad;  
  • Brussels Sprout and Celeriac Cream Soup with Parsley Pesto;
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Apples and Onion; 
  • Brussels Sprouts Pancakes with Onion Marmalade; and 
  • Oysters and Brussels Sprouts Gratin!
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    yum, that looks absolutely healthy and delicious. i'd love to try that in some soup, or pureed with whipping cream. nice post.

    This is very similar to my standby recipe - and one that I've used to trick non-brussels-sprouts-eaters. When dealing with the aforementioned particular tastes, I proceed as you've listed but I shred the sprouts first. It ends up looking like cabbage, and this usually convinces them to take a taste. After that, they're sold.


    Pancetta has such an extraordinary affinity for green, leafy vegetables. But your choice of basil seems odd -- I'm having trouble imagining it. Guess that means I'll just have to try it.

    Kevin...I often make this without the basil. The flavors of the sprouts, garlic and pancetta are so strong that the addition of basil doesn't have that much impact...I think I use it for visual reasons a much as taste, and certainly have made this dish with parsley as the herb, equally successfully. Thanks for asking about this...

    Stephen, I love brussels sprouts but never tried them with pancetta. Guess that's what I'll do next time.

    Why do you remove the core? It's my favourite part, all root-vegetably and where the sweetest flavour is.

    I think I'm going to try the basil pancetta garlic combo tomorrow night...

    The photo is lovely, btw.

    Kate...if it's your favorite part, definitely don't remove it! I frequently don't...but removing the core removes the anchor for most of the leaves, allowing them to start to separate, exposing more surface to the flavoring agents that I'm adding. Just cutting them in half goes a a long way towards accomplishing that, however, so if you like the cores, keep'em...Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment...!

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