orecchiette with roasted brussels sprouts

recently, i’ve been eating far too good stuff. as in: rich and exquisite, as opposed to simple and healthy. the holidays in the south of france were part of the food nirvana, of course (what with dinner at bruno clement’s, who’s six-course truffle menues are pure satisfaction, and the many delicious cheeses and tartes tropeziennes we’ve had there…). and also the many weddings i was lucky to be invited to didn’t really help things.

so i guess it’s finally time to get back to a few healthier things. easy, with the tiny, green brussels sprouts bulbs that have started to appear in supermarkets. i seek ways to incorporate them into as many meals as possible in the colder seasons. like with pasta (i particularly love the round shape of the orecchiette together with the powerful bulbs). result: this recipe turned out more fragrant and better than i ever thought – and it quickly entered my personal top ten dishes.

orecchiette with roasted brussels sprouts

500 g brussels sprouts, washed, and cut in quarters
250 g orecchiette or other pasta
3 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, plus some sprigs for roasting and to serve
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (the thick, sweet kind)
1/2 tsp. chili flakes
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
fleur de sel, salt
freshly ground black pepper

line the baking tray with a parchment paper. preheat the oven to 220 degrees, preferably with the grill function on. combine the brussels sprouts quarters together with the balsamic vinegar (the balsamic accounts for the sweetness and it supports the dark, roasted looking color), half the olive oil, garlic, chili flakes, the thyme leaves a few pinches of fleur de sel and pepper. spread the sprouts on the tray and place in the top half of the oven. place a few thyme sprigs on the side. roast for about half an hour. in the meantime cook the orecchiette in salted water, drain and pour back into the saucepan. take the sprouts out of the oven, combine with the pasta and drizzle with the rest of the olive oil. add half of the parmesan. arrange on a plate, together with some parmesan and a thyme sprig. serve immediately.

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