Can I still call it one-pot pasta if the brussels sprouts are roasted in the oven? It’s more like one-pot plus a pan pasta, but if you line your roasting pan with foil, you might not have to wash it after (I mean unless the foil tore, why would you?). And brussels sprouts are at their very best when roasted, so I think it’s worth another pan.
This recipe was actually born of disaster, but ended up being delicious. I set out to make one-pot orecchiette with brussels sprouts and bacon and gruyere, but orecchiette turned out to be the absolute worst thing to try to one-pot, beeeecause…
Those adorable “little ear” shaped pastas like to NEST and stick together in the absolute worst way. I sat there jabbing at the pot for five minutes trying to get them all to break up, then desperately fished out all the offending stacks to pry them apart with my fingers, to no avail. The worst part is that when these things stick together they double, triple, quadruple their thickness, so they stay totally raw and chewy while the rest of your pasta turns to mush. Could I have avoided this by un-stacking them and dropping each little piece of pasta into the water one by one? Maybe, but it’s not a process I can suggest to fellow humans. So one-pot pasta makers, stay the heck away from orecchiette.
I settled on orzo because it was what I had in my pantry when the orecchiette failed me, and I actually like how it turned out. The shape of the pasta made a really thick sauce that only got richer with the addition of gruyere, and the bacon and brussels sprouts added their respective hits of salt and sweet. It’s a risotto-esque, belly-filling pasta that’s making this terribly cold fall a little easier for me to deal with.
One-Pot Orzo with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, and Gruyere
-a few tablespoons of olive oil
-about 2 pounds fresh brussels sprouts, halved
-5-6 strips of thick-cut bacon (or about 10 strips of regular-cut bacon)
-1 medium onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
-1 pound box orzo pasta
-1 quart (4 cups) water, plus another standby cup of water
-2 cups gruyere cheese, grated
1. Start by roasting your brussels sprouts. I like to cut off any brown stem ends, take off a few outer leaves, and just slice them in half vertically. Pile them up on your foil-lined baking sheet, drizzle on a few tablespoons of olive oil, a good pinch of salt, and toss them together to get them well coated and seasoned. Roast, cut side down, in a 400F oven for about 30 minutes.
2. In a large pot, cook your bacon over medium-low heat until it’s crispy and a lot of fat has rendered out. Remove the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate.
3. Sauté your onion and garlic over medium heat in some of the remaining bacon fat (take out as much fat as you like with a spoon or small ladle).
4. Drop your orzo into the pot along with your quart of water and a big pinch of salt. Increase heat until your water boils and stir the orzo periodically to keep it from sticking.
5. When the orzo is al dente, there should still be a good bit of saucy pasta water in the pot. If the liquid looks too thick. add more water. Turn off the heat and stir in your gruyere cheese. Taste the pasta for salt and add more if necessary.
6. Stir the brussels sprouts into the finished orzo and top with bacon and (optional) black pepper.