Brussels sprouts usually play second fiddle on the dinner plate, but in this dish they're the real star. And who could possibly resist a meal with bacon and brown butter? Even a finicky six-year old who at first glance said "I don't think I'm going to like this" ate half a serving. —Jennifer Perillo
4 to 6
smoked slab bacon, roughly diced
diced butternut squash
small shallot, thinly sliced
Brussels sprouts, tough ends trimmed and cut in half
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/4 cups
dry penne pasta, cooked according to package directions
Add bacon to skillet and heat over medium-high flame. Cook bacon until nicely browned. Transfer to a small bowl using a slotted spoon; set aside. Add butter to skillet and cook until it turns a deep golden color (it will also have a nutty fragrant scent). Add butternut squash to pan and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and lightly browned.
Add the shallots and Brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Cook for five minutes, until Brussels sprouts are just tender.
Stir in vegetable stock, adjust salt and pepper, if necessary, and bring to a simmer. Return cooked bacon to the skillet, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, just until sauce is heated through. Add cooked pasta and toss well to coat. Divide among deep serving bowls and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese before serving. Cook's Note: Why start the bacon in a cold pan, you ask? It's the easiest way to ensure my pan doesn't overheat since dinnertime is an elaborate juggle with a clingy 17-month old and helping my six year old with her homework. For those less tethered, go ahead and preheat your pan, but why not use those few extra minutes to make a cocktail instead?
Jennifer Perillo is the Consulting Food Editor at Working Mother magazine, and a regular a contributor to Relish Magazine and FoodNetwork.com. She shares stories about food, family and life at her blog In Jennie's Kitchen and in her debut cookbook, Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie's Kitchen (Running Press 2013).