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Orecchiette with Brown Butter, Brussels Sprouts & Walnuts

  • Author: Alexandra
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 to 3


  • 10 to 12 oz (283 to 340 g) Brussels sprouts (about 9 oz (255g) once trimmed of stems)
  • 8 oz. (227 g) orecchiette, campanelle, gemelli or whatever you like
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3 oz | 85 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • a handful of grated Pecorino or Parmigiano (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup)
  • freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste


  1. Cut the stems off of each sprout and start separating the leaves. It helps to cut above the stem a little bit higher than you would normally — you also might have to make another cut after you’ve started peeling away the leaves. When you reach the heart of the sprout, it will be really hard to peel back the leaves. Stop peeling and set the heart aside. Once all of the sprouts are peeled, thinly slice the hearts. Set sprout leaves and hearts aside.
  2. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Add the salt.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan (large enough to fit the pasta and Brussels sprouts) melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter begins turning brown and smelling nutty, turn off the heat.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan over medium heat, toast the walnuts until they become lightly browned and fragrant, about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, toast the walnuts at 350ºF for 8 to 10 minutes — watch closely to prevent burning.) Place the toasted walnuts in a tea towel and rub together to remove papery skin. Transfer walnuts to a sieve and shake again to remove any additional skin. I know this is fussy, but it makes a difference. Set aside.
  5. Check the cooking time of the pasta you are using. Set the timer for one minute less than the time recommended for al dente. For example, if your orecchiette cooks in 9 minutes, set the timer for 8. After the 8 minutes, add the Brussels sprouts to the pot. Cook 1 minute more. Reserve a half cup of the cooking liquid and set aside — you might not even need this. Drain pasta/sprouts.
  6. Bring the brown butter back up to temperature over medium or medium-high heat; add the pasta/sprouts to the pan; add the walnuts and toss to coat. Sprinkle a handful of the Pecorino over top and toss again. Taste. Add more salt if necessary (if you salt the cooking water generously (with a tablespoon of kosher salt for example), you shouldn’t have to add too much more salt) and pepper to taste. If necessary add some of the pasta cooking liquid to the pan — it’s nice to have reserved pasta cooking liquid on hand if you make this ahead and need to reheat it.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes