Brussels sprouts seem like the quintessentially staid Northern European vegetable, but have you ever seen them grow? It looks like a lush tropical hothouse decorative plant, with big top leaves, its trunk studded with exotic bulbs. Stripped from the plant, the sprouts look like the mini-cabbages they are (they are in the Brassica family), but they have a lot more soul. Lavish them with pancetta, a juicy Italian version of bacon, and their inner sensuality comes right to the fore.
Besides the flavor, what you will love about this dish is that there are just four ingredients (five if you count water) and the prep time is no more than ten easy minutes of cleaning and chopping.
Pancetta-roasted brussel sprouts
1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (quartered if large)
2 oz pancetta, visible fat discarded and pancetta minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Toss together Brussels sprouts, pancetta, garlic, oil, and salt and pepper to taste in an 11- by 7-inch baking pan and spread in 1 layer.
Roast in upper third of oven, stirring once halfway through roasting, until sprouts are brown on edges and tender, about 25 minutes total. Stir in water, scraping up brown bits. Serve warm.