Guys, I’ve been very bad lately and shopping and spending like Carrie Bradshaw in a Manolo Blahnik store. Except I don’t actually have that kind of dough, but I still find myself feeling extremely guilty whenever I check my bank account. I’m being a bad influence on Leili, too, but at least I’ll look fly while being an enabler. As my best friend Peter says, “I’m a baller on a budget.”
To compensate my recent spending habits, I made a pact with myself to stop getting take out. That means no more sushi deliveries at 11PM. And I am glad to report I’ve been pretty good with this new compromise. To add to that, I’m finally in my exercise groove again and I’m making healthy meals for myself. They don’t teach you this in school, but sometimes irresponsible spending leads to healthier habits, because no money, no takeout.
To kick things off, I went back to a forgotten vegetable: Brussels sprouts. I used to cook these all the time and I’m not sure when I stopped buying them but they’re back in my life. So is bacon. Yes, they are back in my routine and they are going to be in the same recipe because they belong together.
Honestly, bacon-roasted-anything is never not delicious because it just gives such a nice smoky flavor and elevates the roasting process. To even things out, I’ve added pasta and other vegetables in here to bring more colors and flavors into the salad.
And one more thing – elephant garlic is the coolest thing ever. They are huge and only has about five giant cloves in each but they are a dream to peel. Sorry for that random fact there.
But do try this and let your kitchen fill up with the heavenly scent of bacon.
Bacon Brussels Sprout Pasta Salad
3-4 strips of bacon, cut into 1″ pieces
4 cups of Brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved
Salt and pepper
4 teaspoons bacon fat, for Brussels sprouts after frying
2 cups uncooked fusilli
1 clove sliced elephant garlic, or 3-4 regular garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 handfuls of baby kale
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Heat a pot of salted water for the pasta.
In a skillet over medium heat, fry cut bacon pieces for 6-7 minutes, or until a little crispy. Transfer the bacon pieces onto the sheet pan – reserve the bacon fat for later. Add halved Brussels sprouts to pan – season with salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne. Add the bacon fat and toss together until the Brussels sprouts are evenly coated. Place pan in the center of the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the sprouts are slightly brown.
Once the water in the pot comes to a boil, follow the cooking instructions for the fusilli. When the pasta is done, drain and transfer to a large bowl. Season pasta with salt and pepper.
Put sliced garlic in a cold pan and add olive oil. Then turn the heat to medium and slowly cook the garlic. Once it starts to look golden, lower the heat to low and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add garlic oil to pasta.
Add roasted Brussels sprouts and bacon to the pasta bowl; throw in chopped parsley and grape tomatoes. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and gently toss everything together. Add baby kale and toss again. Taste for final seasoning.
If desired, grate some Parmesan cheese on top before serving.