October 25, 2009

Gnocchi with Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Pecans

Well, it's official. Autumn is definitely my favorite season.
Twenty years ago I would have said summer and ten years ago I most likely would have voted for spring. (never been smitten with winter)

Now, it is autumn. No doubt.

The temperature is usually perfect - not too hot and not too cool - and the light turns this gorgeous golden color that I find absolutely stunning. When the sun shines through the leaves on the plane trees they shimmer in beautiful shades of pale green and amber, and the colors in the vineyards range from honey to deep orange to bright crimson. It is seriously gorgeous.
My camera gets an intense workout in October and early November!

Another reason to celebrate autumn; Brussels sprouts are back! And we love them.

This is a hearty dish that offers a scrumptious mix of flavors. The gnocchi and bacon are rich, the sprouts are golden and caramelized (I can't resist anything once it has been caramelized!) and the pecans add a nice crunch to the dish.

Gnocchi with Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Pecans

serves 4 hearty appetites
  • 2 ounces thick cut, smoked bacon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic gloves, smashed a bit but left whole
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, outer leaves trimmed and larger sprouts cut in half
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound gnocchi
  • 1/4 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  1. In a skillet large enough to hold the Brussels sprouts in one layer, heat the olive oil to medium and saute the bacon with the garlic cloves until the garlic is lightly browned and the bacon is crisp, about 4 minutes. Remove the bacon from the skillet and set aside and discard the garlic cloves.
  2. Raise the heat to medium high and add the sprouts to the pan, stirring to coat evenly with the olive oil. Leave the sprouts to cook undisturbed in a single layer for about five minutes, until they develop a deep brown, caramelized color. Stir to allow the other side of the sprouts to brown as well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of water and stir well to loosen any caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan. Cover and reduce to a simmer.
  4. Meanwhile bring a pot of water to boil for the gnocchi and cook according to package directions.
  5. Test the sprouts for doneness by piercing with a sharp knife; they should be al dente, not mushy. Add more water and cook longer if needed. As soon as they are done, scoop the gnocchi out of the water with a slotted spoon and add to the pan with the Brussels sprouts.
  6. Stir in the bacon, chopped pecans and thyme and turn the heat to high to thicken the sauce. Add a bit of reserved pasta water if necessary.
  7. Taste for seasonings.
  8. Serve and enjoy!
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