Q: What do you make for dinner the night before you go back to work after having a baby?
A: Anything you have in your fridge already, so you don’t disturb the good people at the grocery store with your heaving sobs. Oh, and pasta, because that always makes me feel better.
Somehow it’s October. Four months have flown by and my baby is big enough to hold up his own head and smile and generally make my heart sing like those baby animals in Snow White. Naturally, I’m feeling sad and anxious about going from spending all day, every day with him, to only the hours after dark. More about that some other time, I guess.
Anyway, the night before I recommenced working outside the home, we still had to eat and I hadn’t been to the store in quite some time. A perusal through the fridge revealed: half a lemon, half a container of chicken stock, a going-bad-very-quickly package of brussels sprouts, and some Parmesan cheese. Bacon from the freezer and half a box of pasta and presto, dinner in about 30 minutes.
Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Pasta
- half box pasta (I used whole wheat penne)
- about four slices bacon, chopped
- a few sprigs thyme
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- salt, pepper
- a good amount crushed red pepper
- 1 bag (or 1 branch, or however you buy your sprouts) brussels sprouts
- olive oil or butter
- about 1/2 cup chicken stock, white wine, or just the starchy pasta water
- Parmesan cheese
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil; cook your pasta according to directions and drain, reserving about a cup of the starchy water (if using).
- As your pasta cooks, prep your sprouts. Chop off the tough end of each sprout and add to your food processor. Finely shred all your sprouts.
- Heat a deep, large skillet over medium heat and then add bacon. Crisp it up a bit and then add garlic, taking care not to burn it. Add a pinch of salt, pepper, and your crushed red peppers (note: if you like spice, add a fair amount. The crushed red peppers get a bit lost among all the brussels sprouts). Add a few sprigs thyme, as well.
- Add brussels sprouts to pan; spread them out evenly so the shreds start to crisp up underneath a little bit. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of olive oil or butter at this stage! After a while, stir the mixture up to let all the sprouts cook evenly. Add a bit of white wine, stock, or some of the starchy pasta water to start creating a sauce.
- Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and give the whole thing a toss; add lemon juice and Parmesan & season to taste; serve hot.
Make sure to carefully season your pasta throughout the cooking process. I was a bit afraid to oversalt, given the bacon, so I had to make up for this at the end. But this is delicious, and a big bonus is that it makes enough to take for lunch the next day, too. The only remaining question: what do you make for dinner AFTER the day after you start working..and the day after that, and the day after that?
Answer: you marry into literally the best family ever and your MIL brings you a delicious lasagna.