Thursday, September 26, 2013

Brussel Sprouts + Asparagus + Bacon Pasta with Gruyere Sauce

It's taken me three days to decide on what I should name this recipe. It was an amalgamation of delicious foods all joined together over whole wheat pasta smothered in a homemade Gruyere sauce.

If you don't like brussel sprouts (or rather, if you THINK you don't like them because I assure you that you probably DO like them) I have the answer.

It is bacon. Bacon will make you LOVE brussel sprouts.

Oh, and Gruyere cheese. Nutty, creamy, Gruyere cheese will also make you love brussel sprouts.

This Brussel Sprouts + Asparagus + Bacon Pasta with Gruyere Sauce will make you love everything. I had a vision for this dish and I just went with it. I could not have been more pleased with the results.

Thick slices of center cut bacon are diced and cooked until crispy. I sliced the sprouts up into thin ribbons and toss them together in a bit of the bacon grease (SWOON) with pieces of asparagus and sliced leeks. Leeks are in the same family as the onion or the chive. They are a little softer in flavor than an onion,  making them the perfect accompaniment to a rich, creamy, and delicious pasta dish.

The gruyere cheese sauce could not be any easier. We start by making a roux, which is just a bit of flour whisked into melted butter. Add in milk and stir in gruyere and parmesan cheese until a melty, rich cheese sauce is staring you in the face, begging you to eat by the spoonful.

Oh, by the way. I'm no fool. I know that whole wheat pasta loses its nutritional value when bacon and cheese and salt are added to the equation. Regardless, I really enjoy how robust the whole wheat pasta is. It is not nearly as flimsy as white pasta and for this dish, I really recommend a whole wheat.

Here's what you need for Brussel Sprouts + Asparagus + Bacon Pasta with Gruyere Sauce* (Print Recipe!)

For the pasta
1 pound whole wheat penne, cooked according to package instructions
3 slices thick center cut bacon, diced
1 cup brussel sprouts, stems removed and sliced into thin ribbons
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large leek, cleaned very well of any dirt and sliced thin (white and light green parts only)
Salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese (about 4 ounces)
14 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Cracked black pepper to taste

Here's what you do

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate using a slotted spoon. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Add the brussels, asparagus pieces, and leeks. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until bright green and still slightly crunch, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the drained bacon back into the veggie mixture and stir. Keep warm.

Prepare the sauce. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly until a smooth paste is formed...this is the roux. Slowly add in the milk, again stirring constantly. Allow milk to warm for about 3 minutes then whisk in the cheeses and season with salt and pepper. Stir frequently with a whisk until the cheese is melted and a smooth sauce has formed. If the sauce is too thick, add a ladleful at a time of the pasta cooking liquid to thin it out.

Drain the pasta and return it to the large pot. Add the bacon and vegetable mixture. Pour the sauce over the top and toss to coat everything evenly. Serve immediately and ENJOY!

*Gas Stove Girl original recipe

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