This recipe is one inspired by a dish showcased in Fine Cooking a few months back, and should hop right to the top of the list for your next "Meatless Monday" meal. My version teams roasted leeks and brussels sprouts with salty blue cheese, sweet craisins, and earthy brown-butter pecans for a hearty and well balanced vegetarian treat.
The basic premise of this dish can work as a template for all sorts of roasted veggie combinations, though I am so happy to have found a new way of serving my gang brussels sprouts, that I can't imagine not having them in the mix somehow. Looking for a wider variety of colors on your plate, how about roasting some cubed sweet potato to toss in as well, it would be delicious!
If you must have meat on your plate, some left-over chunks of chicken, or a few handfuls of diced, hot sausage such as a chorizo would be excellent here. Make this one soon, while brussels sprouts are still plentiful in your local market.
Cheers – Steve
Orecchiette with Blue Cheese, Leeks and Brussels Sprouts
- 1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
- 1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed
- 2 medium leeks, light green and white parts only
- 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup crumbled blue cheese (4 ounces)
- 1/3 cup craisins
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Set 2 racks in the middle and upper third of the oven and set the temperature to 500℉. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.
- Trim away the root end and dark green parts of the leeks, then split them down the middle and cut them cross-wise into half moon shapes about 1/3" thick. Toss the leek pieces into a large bowl of cold water and agitate well to remove any grit. Transfer to a salad spinner and spin dry. Place the slices in a bowl with a glug of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then pour the leeks out onto a rimmed baking sheet.
- In a food processor fitted with a medium slicing disc, slice the brussels sprouts. Toss into the bowl you just used for the leeks, and coat with oil and season as you did with the leeks. Pour them out onto their own rimmed baking sheet.
- Place both sheets in the oven, each on their own rack and cook for 15-20 minutes, swapping the sheets half-way through cooking, until both the leeks and sprouts are tender and starting to char.
- Meanwhile cook the orecchiette until just al dente per the package instructions.
- In a medium heavy-duty skillet melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the pecans and cook, stirring frequently, until the butter is browned and the buts are toasted, about 3-4 minutes. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
- Place the skillet back over medium heat, add the cream and 3/4 up of the cheese and bring to a simmer, stirring until the cheese is melted. Drain the pasta well, then place it back in the pot, add the roasted vegetables, lemon juice, and the cream sauce and toss well. Check for seasoning.
- Spoon into warmed bowls, and top each with some of the craisins, nuts and the balance of the blue cheese.