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Orecchiette with Bacon, Onion and Brussels Sprouts or Cabbage

Orecchiette with Bacon, Onion and Brussels Sprouts or Cabbage


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • ½ to ⅓ pound meaty bacon or smoked pancetta, chopped

  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 20 leaves sage, stacked and thinly sliced or chopped

  • About 4 cups shredded Brussels sprouts (about 24 large), or 1 small savoy cabbage, cored and shredded

  • 4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced or chopped

  • Salt and white pepper

  • A little freshly grated nutmeg (about ¼ teaspoon)

  • ½ cup white wine

  • ½ cup chicken bone broth or stock

  • 1 pound orecchiette

  • 1 cup grated Parm or Pecorino or a combo, plus more for passing


Heat a large pot of water to boil for pasta. 

Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat with EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, add the bacon or smoked pancetta and brown, remove to paper towel-lined plate. Add onions, bay leaf and sage and soften a few minutes, add Brussels sprouts or cabbage, garlic, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg, toss and wilt 5 minutes, add wine and absorb, then stock and reduce heat to low. Add back in the bacon and remove bay leaf before tossing with pasta. 

Cook pasta in salted water to al dente, reserve ½ cup salted cooking water, drain pasta and add to cabbage and/or sprouts with bacon or pancetta. Add starchy water and parm or pecorino and toss over heat 1 minute. 

Serve pasta in shallow bowls and pass more cheese at table.