Restaurants frequently tempt me with their gourmet Brussels sprouts dishes. They’re all the rage roasted or tossed into pasta dishes. But they’re almost always drowned in butter or covered in parmesan cheese. So I’ve started making my own “restaurant-style” creations, like this Brussels sprout pasta. It’s made with simple ingredients, but boasts flavors and textures that rival those chef creations.
Dairy-Free Brussels Sprout Pasta that Every Home Chef Should Try
This Brussels sprout pasta takes advantage of everyday essentials, like olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon. But it has one special ingredient that elevates the experience: pancetta. You can find this Italian meat pre-diced in almost any grocery store. You can even find pre-shredded Brussels sprouts to turn this into a 15 minute meal! I have also included some additional ingredient options in the FAQs below.
My Husband / Wife / Child hates Brussels Sprouts. Will they like this Pasta?
I can’t account for everyone’s taste. But my husband has frequently proclaimed his hatred of these mini cabbages, and he gave this dish two thumbs up. Thinly slicing and sautéing the sprouts softens them and disperses the flavor for a mellower taste. The salty pancetta and zesty lemon provide additional layers of interest that complement and tame hearty Brussels sprouts.
What Can I Substitute for the Pancetta?
Another salty Italian meat like prosciutto would go nicely. But finely diced ham is also a delicious option. You could substitute bacon, in a pinch. If using bacon, you might want to remove some of the bacon fat and add it back as needed. Rendered bacon produces more oil than pancetta.
How Can I Add More Protein to this Brussels Sprout Pasta?
I can suggest a few delicious options. One is to add cooked and diced chicken, cubed extra-firm tofu, or white beans. All of these foods go well with the flavors in this recipe. An alternative way to add protein to this Brussels sprout pasta is to use a lentil or bean pasta. Legume pasta tends to be quite high in protein and is typically gluten-free and allergy-friendly. Just keep in mind that legume pasta can be more finicky to cook. It should also be eaten the same day, as doesn’t hold up well when refrigerated.
Can I Use Other Vegetables?
You can substitute another cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli or thinly sliced cabbage for the Brussels sprouts. In summer, zucchini goes nicely. If you simply want to add other vegetables, I like the addition of corn or mushrooms.
What About Garlic and Onion?
These alliums tend to lend strong flavors, so I skipped them for this Brussels sprout pasta. But if you’re craving more pungent flavors, you can certainly add them. I would mince a clove of garlic or dice half a yellow onion and saute them with the brussels sprouts.
How Many Lemons Will I Need for this Recipe?
You’ll only need one lemon. You can use a regular lemon or a Meyer lemon. In a pinch, bottled lemon juice will work, but you will be missing that added zest. I don’t recommend substitute lime, as it doesn’t go as well with this ingredient combination.
Do You Have a Vegan Version of this Brussels Sprout Pasta?
This recipe is dairy-free, and not meant to be vegan. You can certainly use a vegan bacon alternative, but you might need to add oil to cook it. Otherwise, I would use some of the other vegetable options, such as adding mushrooms, and season to taste with more salt, as needed, more oil, and perhaps some smoked paprika. It will go nicely with these flavors.
Can I Make this Brussels Sprout Pasta Ahead?
It will keep as well as any pasta. Simply store it in an airtight container for up to two days. You can reheat it gently in the microwave or on the stove top. Add a little water and/or oil before heating if it looks dry.
Special Diet Notes: Brussels Sprout Pasta
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, optionally gluten-free, optionally grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, and optionally paleo friendly.
- 12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed
- 8 ounces dry spaghetti, fettuccine, or angel hair pasta (gluten-free, if needed)
- 4 ounces diced pancetta
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided (or as needed; see directions)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice, to taste
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Crushed red pepper, for serving (optional)
- Cut the Brussels sprouts in half vertically (through the stem). Then thinly slice them horizontally with a knife or in a food processor fitted with the slicing disk.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta once cooked.
- While the pasta cooks, sauté the pancetta in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until almost crisp and the fat is rendered, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pancetta to a bowl using a slotted spoon.
- Add 2 tablespoons oil to the pan with the pancetta fat. Add the sliced Brussels sprouts, salt, and pepper. Sauté until the sprouts are tender and just beginning to brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low. Add the cooked pasta, lemon juice, and lemon zest to the pan and stir or toss with tongs to combine. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, if needed. If the pancetta releases enough fat, you won’t need the extra oil. But use it if the pasta looks dry.
- Plate the pasta and sprinkle with crushed red pepper (if using).