Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts

carbonara with brussels sproutsIngredients:

3 oz pancetta, chiffonade
2 T olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced
4-8 large garlic cloves, minced
10 oz Brussels sprouts, shaved
1 lb thin spaghetti
2 ladles salted pasta water (reserve a third ladle of water for use as needed)
1 cup parmigiana reggiano, grated
4 eggs, beaten
1 t oregano
1/4 t ground black pepper, or to taste

Garnish: grated Parmesan

Spoon Mage™ Note:

How much garlic you use depends upon how much you love it and on whether you use fresh chopped or garlic from a jar. Jarred garlic is not as strongly flavored and when I use that, I’ll use about 8 cloves. You may want just 4 garlic cloves. It’s your dinner make to suit you.

Many stores sell those lovely pre-shaved Brussels sprouts. As long as the package is fresh, it is just fine to use those. If you prefer, go ahead and slice your sprouts. First slice off the root end, then use a very sharp knife and slice as thinly as you can – do not cut yourself, ok?


Combine parmigiana reggiano, eggs, oregano and about 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper in a small bowl. Whisk well and put back in the fridge. Prep the rest of the ingredients.

In a large deep skillet set over medium-high heat, sauté the pancetta in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes. The pancetta should not brown or crisp, just start to curl and bubble.

Add the onions and sauté for four more minutes, stirring frequently. Cook just until the onions soften and become translucent.

Add the garlic and sauté, stirring slowly but constantly for 30 second, or until the aroma changes from raw garlic to cooked. Do not stop to answer the door or the garlic will burn and you’ll have to start over.

Add the shaved sprouts, reduce heat to medium and saute with the pancetta and onions for 5 minutes. Stir a few times. Don’t make a federal case out of stirring.

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and continue to cook for 5 more minutes, stirring every now and then.

This is a good time to put a large pot filled with salted water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. When the pasta is about halfway done scoop out 3-4 ladles worth of pasta water, set aside. I use a lovely two cup Pyrex measuring cup for this.

If your sprouts get done too soon, don’t fuss it. Just remove the pan from the heat until the next step.


Put two ladles of the reserved pasta water into the skillet with the sprouts, cover. Return the pan to medium heat if you had the pan sitting off heat. The sprouts will steam to a nice tender finish while the pasta finishes cooking.

When the pasta is done to al dente, drain it, and return the noodles to the pot.

Pour in the sprout mixture and toss to combine.

Quickly pour in the egg mixture, tossing and stirring as you go. If you have someone in the kitchen helping, have them pour the eggs while you toss. If you are alone, remember that a little speed with the eggs help the pasta water and oil turn into a luscious sauce, so you might dump and stir and then scrape and stir. If the eggs sit too long without moving around with the spaghetti, you may end up with scrambled eggs. Tasty, but not as pretty.

Should the mixture look a little dry, add a little bit of the reserved pasta water, but you should be just fine… unless you used too much cheese in the egg mixture. That was mindfully and purposefully done, right? The goal is to have each strand generously coated with sauce, not drowning in a saucy bath.

Serve with a lovely green salad and perhaps a nice cold Frascati.

brussels-sprouts-pancettacarbonara with brussels sprouts

2 thoughts on “Carbonara with Brussels Sprouts

    • TheSpoonMage

      thank you! This has become a family favorite. Because I can’t make this without a lot of “test tasting” as the sprouts simmer, I even serve the sprouts without pasta as as side dish. I think I only made minor tweaks to that and should probably put that up for folks. I dare a non-sprout eater to dislike it!


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