Beetroot & Fetta Agnolotti with Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta
Recipe Inspiration: How to prepare and enjoy a most underrated vegetable
Blog: Anita with Renée
For our next recipe clubbers, we wanted to bust the myth on a scorned vegetable from childhood: the Brussels sprout. We set out to prove that when this veggie is prepared correctly, it is utterly delicious and a nutritious, inexpensive addition to any meal.
So lets get to know this cruciferous vegetable a little better. Firstly, they are called Brussels sprouts not Brussel sprouts… even if you’re only referring to one sprout. You might have guessed that they are named after Belgium’s capital city – from which they were first cultivated – so make sure the “B” is capitalised please! These miniature looking cabbages are indeed part of the cabbage family, however these sprouts are much more than just a tiny cabbage. They may be small in size, but are huge in nutritional value. Not only are they low in calories, they are also high in many nutrients, especially fibre, vitamin K and vitamin C.
Many people will instantly turn their noses up at the mere mention of this vegetable. I would be willing to bet that 9 times out of 10 it is because they were boiled, steamed or microwaved; resulting in a limp texture, bitter flavour and terrible smell. Not to mention, that they also would have lost all their vitamin and mineral content. When picked in season though, Brussels sprouts are in fact an exciting (yes, I said exciting) and extremely versatile vegetable – you may have seen celebrity chefs lately championing them back into fashion. Both their texture and flavour, raw or cooked, is fantastic!
So how do we move on from the childhood dislike (maybe even hatred) of this vegetable and rediscover the humble Brussels sprout? It’s all in the cooking technique and balance of flavours. These edible buds may have a bad reputation for bitterness, but more people are catching on that when cooked right, they have a carmelised outer with a nutty and tender centre.
That’s not to say that they can’t be appreciated raw – try them finely sliced in salads and slaws. They can also be sautéed, used in frittatas, a top of pizzas, in stir-fries or as a sensational side dish to any main meal. In mine and Renée’s opinion, they are best enjoyed roasted.
Roasting the vegetable brings out their natural sweetness. They are irresistible roasted with lemon juice, chopped parsley and shaved Parmigiano – the tang of the lemon and saltiness of the cheese adds a burst of flavour. They are just as delectable roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper – with a drizzle of honey and balsamic vinegar when ready to serve. Brsussels sprouts pair superbly with salty rich foods (cured meats like pancetta), citrus fruits and dressings to balance the herbaceous flavour.
To create the perfect blend of sweet, savoury and salty flavours, we decided the Beetroot and Fetta filled agnolotti would be ideal. I personally love them (I mean how beautiful is that colour?!) and better yet, my kids love them (HUGE tick!). This recipe is not only incredibly easy to make but super impressive on the flavour front and on the eye. I promise that you will be converted from the “I will never eat a Brussels sprout again” person to a “where has this been all my life” person. Ok, well you will at the very least have a new appreciation for this trendy veggie.
A few tips on selecting Brussels sprouts before you run out to try this recipe…
- Check that they are in season – anything in season is always going to taste better.
- Look for small, bright green heads – this indicates the leaves are tightly packed and have a sweeter flavour.
- Steer clear of yellowing leaves, or spotted outer leaves – a sign of age.
We urge you to give this recipe a go and we’d love to hear your Brussels sprouts stories… we know you all have at least one – ha!
We’ll have some more amazing recipes for you in the coming months.
Until then, ciao for now and buon appetito!
Anita, Renee & the GR Team
- 500g of GR Beetroot & Fetta Agnolotti
- 400g of Brussels sprouts
- 150g of pancetta, thinly sliced with the rind removed
- ½ bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
- ½ bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- ½ cup of pine nuts
- The zest of one lemon
- A clove of garlic
- 2-4 anchovy fillets (trust me on this one!)
- Salt and pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Prepare a large pot of salted water and place on the hob to boil.
- Meanwhile, prepare the Brussels sprouts for roasting. Start by lining an oven tray with baking paper. Wash the sprouts, cut them in half and place them on the tray, cut side down.
- Next, slice the pancetta into thin strips and nestle them amongst the sprouts. Season with a drizzle of evoo and salt to taste.
- Roast the sprouts in a fan forced oven on 180º Celsius for approx. 25-30 mins or until golden brown.
- While the sprouts are roasting, it’s time to prepare the other ingredients. Finely chop the garlic, parsley and mint. Zest the lemon. Set all ingredients aside in a ramekin.
- Next, use a dry frying pan to roast the pine nuts until fragrant.
- Once the sprouts are approx. 5 minutes from being removed from the oven, place the agnolotti in pot the of water (which should be on a roaring boil). Cook the agnolotti for approx. 8 minutes (as they will continue to cook in the pan).
- Place a generous amount of evoo in a deep frying pan. Sauté and melt the anchovy fillets, garlic, herbs and lemon zest.
- Place the roasted sprouts in the pan and toss to combine. Quickly strain the agnolotti and reserve some of the cooking water. Add the agnolotti to the pan and toss again to combine. Add a touch more water to create a silky coating.
- Finish with a splash of evoo, pepper to taste and shaved Parmigiano. Serve and enjoy immediately.