Orecchiette with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

Orecchiette with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon is a quick and easy weeknight dinner that can be prepared in 30 minutes. You may even have the ingredients on hand already!


Do you ever have one of those meals that you just throw together with stuff from the fridge – And then it becomes one of the best dinners of your life? This dish was just that for me.

Take a few brussels sprouts (left over from this recipe), the other half of the bacon used to make these, the remnants of a parmesan wedge (after making this), and the last of the pasta from a bag from who knows when – And you end up with this: Orecchiette with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon.

Who knew that these simple ingredients (brussels sprouts and boring pasta) could come together so awesomely? They key is in the sauce. I’ll call this “The Sauce that Comes Out of Nowhere”. The bacon, sautéed until crisp, sets the base for a rich dish. Use a bit of that leftover bacon fat in the pan to saute the brussels sprouts – They’ll take on a creamy texture as they soften up. Then, be sure to reserve some of that starchy/salty pasta water. Put a ladle of that into the pan as well, add a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, and a little (or a lot) of red pepper flakes. That’s it – Dinner’s ready.

Orecchiette with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon | platingsandpairings.com

If you’re looking for something to serve alongside this dish, try this simple arugula salad (one of my favorites!). Or, you can do like I did, and just call the pasta dinner on its own – It does have veggies in it after all… And bacon is protein, right? And dairy – parmesan cheese. A well rounded meal in my book. 😉

Have you come up with any wonderful creations using just what you have on hand in the fridge? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Wine Pairings for Brussels Sprouts Pasta:

  • Brussels sprouts are notoriously difficult to pair with wine because of their sulfur content. In this case, I chose to pair this dish with a Dry Cider and it was absolutely delicious!
Orecchiette with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon | platingsandpairings.com

Orecchiette with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

Orecchiette with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon is a quick and easy weeknight dinner that can be prepared in 30 minutes. You may even have the ingredients on hand already!
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 6 ounces bacon (cut into 3/4-inch pieces, about 7 slices)
  • cup Up to 1/4 extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 1/4 pounds brussels sprouts (trimmed and thinly sliced)
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 12 ounces orecchiette pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)


  • Heat a dry large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon; cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Add enough oil to bacon fat in skillet to total 2 tablespoons. Add garlic and Brussels sprouts; cook, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, about 3 minutes. Add stock; season with salt and pepper. Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed and sprouts are tender, 5-7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil; add the pasta. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid; return pasta to pot.
  • Stir in sprouts mixture, reserved 1/2 cup cooking liquid, cheese, and red pepper flakes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil; add bacon. Toss until combined. Serve with more cheese.
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13 thoughts on “Orecchiette with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon”

  1. I really need to get more creative when having lots of random ingredients in my fridge or pantry. I am not great at that but love what you’ve got going on here! I am a big fan of orecchiette. It is such a fun shaped pasta!!

    • I’m not hugely creative with the leftover fridge ingredients either Erin, but this one worked really well. I must have had my thinking cap on that day 😉

  2. What a fun (and beautiful) recipe! I think, because of the simplicity and freshness of the ingredients, it would be even more amazing with homemade orecchiette. Have you made homemade orecchiette before? It’s super easy and so ridiculously delicious!

    • I’ve yet to try orecchiette making by hand, but I just saw a recipe for it today and thought to myself “That does look simple.” I’m going to have to give it a try on a free weekend Mary!

  3. I’m pretty sure brussels sprouts and bacon were a marriage made in heaven. SO GOOD. This dish looks fab and I love the way you did the brussels sprouts on top!

    • Thanks Jenni – The Brussels sprouts on top are actually just for looks – So that you can tell there’s Brussels sprouts in there 🙂 Food photography necessities 😉


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