I saw an orecchiette and Brussels sprouts dish on Pinterest, and thought it was so pretty, the way the Brussels sprouts leaves echoed the size and shape of the pasta. Of course, when I then made a dish with orecchiette and Brussels sprouts, it wasn’t anything of the sort, because I used our home-grown Brussels sprouts ranging in size from tiny to practically kale. Oh well, never mind, it was quite delicious, and apart from a few minutes spent mucking about with the Brussels sprouts, as fast as any other pasta dish.
There is also some home-grown thyme in the kitchen this year, so I am calling for it in recipes more than I have in recent years. You will still have the problem that most of the dried thyme available for sale is tasteless dust. I would be inclined to buy some fresh, use twice as much as I called for here, and leave the rest out in a sieve until dry. Then you will have some decent thyme for a while.
Thyme is an easy to grow and attractive perennial, so if you have any garden space at all, it is worth while getting a plant or two. It spreads to make a good groundcover so one or two plants will usually be quite enough to go on with.
30 minutes prep time
250 grams (1/2 pound) Brussels sprouts
1 large leek
4 to 6 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup unsalted butter
225 grams orecchiette or other similar pasta
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon rubbed thyme
the zest and juice of 1/4 lemon
100 grams (3 ounces) Parmesan cheese
Wash and trim the Brussels sprouts. Remove (and keep) loose leaves and cut the remaining sprouts in half. Wash and trim the leek, and slice it lengthwise. Cut into slices about the size of the Brussels sprouts leaves. Peel and mince the garlic.
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the leeks in it very gently until the water comes to a boil.
When the water boils, add the prepared Brussels sprouts and boil them for 2 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon, draining them well. Add them to the leeks. Put the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to the package instructions (I am assuming about 10 minutes).
Stir the leeks and Brussels sprouts occasionally as they cook, and season them with pepper, thyme, and the lemon zest.
Grate the Parmesan cheese coarsely.
Just before the pasta is done, add the garlic to the pan of vegetables and mix it in well. Sprinkle the lemon juice over them.
Drain the pasta, leaving about half a cup of water in the pot. Return the pasta to the pot and mix in the vegetables and about 2/3 of the cheese. Stir well until the cheese is melted. Transfer the pasta to a serving dish or individual dishes, and sprinkle the remaining cheese over it.
Last year at this time I made Broiled Mushrooms.