Episode 4 in the continuing Beans & Greens saga. Now, I know, that bacon isn’t a legume or even a vegetable. One might, however, view bacon as the glorious transmutation of plant material into noble porkiness. But, not to worry, there are beans in here too!
At any rate, this recipe comes to me from our blog friend, Linda, at EACH LITTLE WORLD who forwarded it from another blogger at Mary Makes Dinner. Thanks to both of you for a solid addition to the theme.
Of course, I couldn’t leave a recipe go un-tweaked. I had some Guanciale (Italian cured, but not smoked, jowl bacon) in the fridge so I thought I would substitute some of that for a part of the bacon. The Guanciale brings a different sort of porky goodness to the table – more earthy than bacon. I also swapped out crushed red pepper for the chili paste in the original recipe. And I finished the pasta with a generous hit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese which, I think, really rounded out the dish. And an added plus is that Brussels Sprouts are one of Jeanne’s favorite greens so I’m always happy to help her get her Sprouts fix.
Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Beans
1/2# Brussels Sprouts, finely shredded
2 oz. good smoky bacon (I use Nueske’s bacon ends), coarsely chopped
2 oz. Guanciale, cut into 1/8″ lardons
1 can Cannellini Beans (aka White Kidney Beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper or to taste
1/2# dried pasta (something short like penne, rigatoni, fusilli, cellentani, or cavatappi)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pan (I use a wok but a large skillet works too) cook the Guanciale over medium heat until it is crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.
In the fat from the Guanciale, cook the bacon until it is crisp. Remove and reserve with the Guanciale.
Cook the pasta in heavily salted water according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking start the sprouts.
In the fat from the bacon and Guanciale, sauté the sprouts for about 2 minutes, adding them in stages so that they wilt a bit between additions. Add the crushed red pepper. Cook 2 more minutes, turning frequently. Don’t worry if they start to brown a little but DO NOT OVERCOOK! The sprouts should keep much of their green color.
Add the beans and continue sautéing until the beans are heated through, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, remembering that the bacon, Guanciale and pasta water have brought some salt to the dish already.
About 1 minute before the pasta is finished, scoop it out of the water and add it to the pan with the sprouts and beans. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and stir to combine. Continue cooking, adding a bit more pasta water if the mixture seems dry, for one more minute. Add the reserved bacon and Guanciale.
Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serves two for a hearty dinner or four for a pasta course in a larger meal.