Fall

Pasta with Brown Butter & Brussels Sprouts

by:
October 21, 2019
14 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
Author Notes

With roughly equal parts pasta and Brussels sprouts, is this a pasta dish with Brussels sprouts, or Brussels sprouts with pasta? Or since nutty browned butter is involved, do these questions even matter?

Whatever you call this dish, just know that it's simple to prepare and really, really good. I love the fact that it's a square meal since it's hearty and chock-full of vegetables, which on a given weeknight when I'm rushing to make dinner, I truly appreciate. I'm not entirely sure what inspired me to try this particular combination of ingredients, other than the fact that I'm a longtime fan of pairing pasta and Brussels sprouts, especially when the sprouts are cut so thinly that they get all twisted and tangled with the pasta. What I didn't expect, however, is how much I like this duo when tossed in browned butter. And how already-magical browned butter gets more glorious still when joined by black sesame seeds, which get all nutty and fragrant when toasted. Trust me, this black sesame-browned butter duo is reason enough to make this for dinner tonight.

A few notes:
— I call for 3/4 pound of pasta to 1 pound of Brussels sprouts. I've tried different ratios, and this is the one I like best. That said, if you'd prefer to use a whole 1-pound box of pasta, by all means go for it. The dish won't suffer at all.
— To make easy work of shaving a pile of Brussels sprouts, use the slicing blade of a food processor. But if you don't have one, use a sharp knife, or even a mandoline (just watch those fingers!). Or easier still, grab one of those bags of washed, shaved Brussels sprouts from the grocery. There's absolutely no shame in that!
— I love adding a good splash of lemon juice at the end to really brighten up all of the flavors and cut through the richness of the browned butter. But it's hard to say how much you'll want or need. So start with 2 teaspoons, and go from there until the flavors really sing to you. —EmilyC

Watch This Recipe
Pasta with Brown Butter & Brussels Sprouts
  • Prep time 8 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 3/4 pound of your favorite pasta (such as long fusilli noodles or orecchiette)
  • 6 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted)
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced (see note above)
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest + 2 teaspoons lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and pasta; cook until al dente according to package directions. (Note that you'll reserve the pasta water; see step 3.)
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet (one big enough to hold the cooked pasta), melt the butter and cook until it turns brown and smells nutty, about 4 to 6 minutes. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom so they don't burn. Add the Brussels sprouts, black sesame seeds, and chile flakes, tossing well to evenly coat with the brown butter. Season with salt and sauté until the leaves are just tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add lemon zest and toss again.
  3. Using tongs or a pasta ladle, transfer the pasta directly into the skillet and toss with the Brussels sprouts mixture. Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice (or more, to taste, until the flavors pop) and some of the pasta water to loosen the sauce (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup, or as needed), tossing well to evenly coat the pasta. Add the Parmesan and toss again.
  4. Serve warm with more Parmesan on top.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lindsay-Jean Hard
    Lindsay-Jean Hard
  • janthony415
    janthony415
  • EmilyC
    EmilyC
  • Zoë
    Zoë
EmilyC

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

24 Reviews

Lindsay-Jean H. February 5, 2021
Instead of saying, "when pigs fly," I'm going to start saying, "when EmilyC creates a mediocre recipe," because it's even more unlikely to ever happen. Yet another stellar dish (that I could have had on repeat for over a year now!).
 
Author Comment
EmilyC February 6, 2021
LJ! Your comment put a huge smile on my face and made me laugh! : ) Thanks so much. So glad you liked this! #brownbutteriseverything
 
Zoë November 5, 2020
Made this for family, and everyone loved it! I didn't realize I was out of parm until it was too late. Made some toasted breadcrumbs with butter and garlic instead to substitute, which worked really well :)
 
Author Comment
EmilyC November 6, 2020
So glad you liked it, and so smart to turn to breadcrumbs! Thanks so much Zoe for trying this and circling back!
 
ecrmohs August 17, 2020
Very good recipe with clear instructions! The proportions of pasta to brussel sprouts is spot on. I agree with other reviewers that adding garlic and a bit of extra lemon helps the flavors pop. Thanks for a great dish, Emily!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC August 19, 2020
So glad you enjoyed this -- especially the ratio of pasta to veg! : ) Thanks for trying it and circling back!
 
ecrmohs August 17, 2020
Very good recipe with clear instructions! The proportions of pasta to brussel sprouts is spot on. I agree with other reviewers that adding garlic and a bit of extra lemon helps the flavors pop. Thanks for a great dish, Emily!
 
Jenluv July 14, 2020
I love this recipe, I added leeks and highly recommend adding it to Brussels sprouts.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC July 17, 2020
Love the idea of adding leeks! So glad you enjoyed this, Jenluv.
 
Sasha F. May 20, 2020
Loving this recipe! So simple but ridiculously good. I up the lemon zest & juice and added some pressed garlic in the brown butter right before I aded the brussels. You need this dish in your life!
 
Sasha F. May 20, 2020
Made this recipe 3x and it's now a staple pasta at our house. So simple but alll the good flavors. I up the lemon and also added some crushed garlic. Don't forget to salt the pasta water!!!!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC May 23, 2020
Yay, so glad this recipe made it into your rotation! Thanks for your note, Sasha!
 
Sasha F. May 20, 2020
Made this recipe 3x and it's now a staple pasta at our house. So simple but alll the good flavors. I up the lemon and also added some crushed garlic. Don't forget to salt the pasta water!!!!
 
Sasha F. May 20, 2020
Made this recipe 3x and it's now a staple pasta at our house. So simple but alll the good flavors. I up the lemon and also added some crushed garlic. Don't forget to salt the pasta water!!!!
 
Marni May 2, 2020
This is delicious! My husband says it’s the first time he’s ever liked Brussels sprouts.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC May 5, 2020
Wonderful -- glad you both enjoyed it!
 
Debha November 30, 2019
Just made this for a bring and share lunch tomorrow. Wow! Delicious! Will definitely make again. Most things in the pantry...win!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC November 30, 2019
Yay, so glad you liked it! : )
 
janthony415 November 29, 2019
I made this and brought it to Thanksgiving as a side dish and it was a hit! I will be adding this into my rotation all winter long now. So good!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC November 29, 2019
So glad to hear this—thanks for trying it and circling back!!
 
deedee1200 November 27, 2019
This looks great, and I can't wait to try it with some streaky bacon or pancetta!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC November 29, 2019
Bacon or pancetta would be a great addition!!
 
pfall November 21, 2019
OMG! Made this with 16 ounces of Explore Green Lentil Penne and my family inhaled it! The Lentil Penne had the perfect consistency to hold up against the brussels sprouts. Amazing (and unlikely) combination of flavors, but just a wonderful, hearty and complex winter pasta dish. Highly recommend using the slicing disk of your Cuisinart for the sprouts.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC November 21, 2019
So happy you liked this, pfall!! And great tip re: the lentil penne—I’ve never tried it, but now I will. Thanks for your note!