The only thing I love more than the holidays is when the holidays are over. January is me-time for locals, who are suddenly free of out of town guests and holiday obligations. As the throngs of tourists dissipate, we take back the tram line at the Jackson Hole Ski Resort, and waltz into our favorite restaurants without a reservation.
January is the time to get down to the real business of winter: skiing our hearts out and cooking hearty, no-fuss suppers to fuel our adventures.
At the height of the tourist season, we escaped resort lift lines to ski Teton Canyon in Atla, WY: one big gorgeous open canyon perfectly groomed for classic and skate skiing.
Skate skiing in Teton Canyon: just the boys, the dogs, the Tetons and me.
Over the holidays, there was a whole lot of cooking and eating and drinking at my house, as I am sure there was at yours. We have been fortunate to eat well, but now we are ready for simpler fare, with a good dose of cruciferous vegetables to detox from the indulgences of the holidays.
Pasta with Brussels sprouts, lemon and almonds
This is one of my all-time favorite Brussels sprouts recipes, and it's the kind of dish that that comes together as fast as the pasta boils. Tonight I am making Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Lemon and Almonds.
We had quite a few visitors over the holidays, but most were of the big-eared, doey-eyed type.
Now I know there are some Brussels sprouts lovers out there, as well as some Brussels sprouts haters. I have not met anyone who is indifferent to Brussels sprouts; it's a vegetable that requires you to take a stand.
We counted 28 cows in this bull elk's harem (what a stud!). Migrating through our yard after the 20 inch snowstorm, they decided to stay for a few days, bedding down beneath the pines.
But since I am firmly in the pro-Brussels sprouts camp, having come to this conviction late in life, I am always hopeful to swing a few of those stubborn anti-sprouts people over to our side. Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Lemon and Almonds is a dish that could do just that.
How could anyone hate the humble Brussels sprout?
As you can probably guess, this has the potential to be one of those recipes that will help you clean out the contents of your refrigerator. The pasta and the Brussels sprouts are crucial, but the rest of the ingredients are up for grabs. No almonds? Try homemade croutons, toasted pine nuts, or pecans. Out of bacon? A small hunk of pancetta, prosciutto, guanciale, or good old leftover ham would be perfect. Use the slivered rind of a preserved lemon (if you have one) or the zest of a lemon (if you don't). No shallots? Try 1/2 of a yellow onion, finely chopped, or 2 cloves of minced garlic instead. And just about any grated hard cheese would work. Or skip the cheese altogether....you possibly indulged in plenty of cheese over the holidays.
A few of the smarter elk found some sweet carrot tops and beet greens in the remnants of my summer garden. I was so happy I could provide a nice meal for our ungulate guests.
For a printable version of the recipe, click on the file below it.
Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Lemon and Almonds
Preserved lemon rind and Brussels sprouts were made for each other. It is easy to make your own preserved lemons
, or you can purchase them at the Aspens Market in the deli.
- 1 pound sturdy pasta, such as fettucini, linguini, or spaghetti
- 3/4 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed of outer leaves, and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 slices of bacon, finely chopped (or pancetta, or prosciutto, or guanciale)
- rind from 1/2 of a preserved lemon, rinsed and sliced into slivers, or the zest of one lemon plus its juice
- 1/2 cup whole, unsalted almonds, toasted and chopped (or pine nuts, or pecans, or homemade croutons)
- salt and pepper to taste (white pepper would be good)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or other hard cheese)
- Put a large pot of water on to boil.
- Heat a large frying pan, and add the butter and the olive oil. When the butter is bubbling, add the bacon and the shallot, and cook until the shallot is starting to brown.
- Add the slivered preserved lemon and the Brussels sprouts, and quickly "stir-fry" over high heat until the sprouts get nice and brown. Now turn down the heat a bit (add the lemon zest and lemon juice at this point, if using) and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- When the pasta water boils, add a generous pinch of salt (I'll add a tablespoon to a large pot), and cook the pasta until al dente.
- Before you drain the pasta, dip a one cup measure into the pasta water and set aside. You'll use this to thicken the sauce.
- Add the drained pasta back to the pot, and then add the Brussels sprouts and all the juices from the frying pan. Toss, toss, toss, and cook over low heat for a minute, adding pasta water little by little to thicken the sauce.
- Top with the chopped almonds, the Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper.
- Toss, toss, toss, and serve.
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The view from the National Wildlife Art Museum in Jackson, with the Elk Refuge in the background. The Wild Sage Cafe in the museum has a very, very nice lunch menu.