Brussels sprouts, sizzled sage, nutty pine nuts, and a bit of oomph from garlic and chilli, makes these little green buds very very tasty!
It can work for vegetarians, too, simply omit Step 3.
400g (about 14 oz) fresh and firm Brussels sprouts Salt 1 Tbsp olive oil A little cluster of sage leaves 2 Tbsp pine nuts 1 medium-hot red chilli, coarsely chopped 1 large clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced 40g (about 1½ oz) thickly sliced pancetta (or dry-cured bacon), chopped into fat strips (optional) 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Trim Brussels sprouts and cut a small cross in the bottom of each one. Plunge into a saucepan of boiling salted water and cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes; they should still feel firm. Drain and refresh with cold water. Shake off excess water and dry off on paper towels.
2 Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan (skillet) over a gentle heat. Add sage leaves, pine nuts, chilli and garlic. Fry, stirring often, until the pine nuts and garlic are lightly golden; don’t leave the pan unattended because the ingredients can easily burn. Tilt pan and transfer all the bits to a side plate.
3 Add pancetta or bacon to pan. Lower heat and cook gently until lightly golden, turning with tongs; don’t overcook, especially the pancetta, or it will taste bitter. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Omit this step if you want to make this an all-vegetable dish.
4 Heat extra virgin olive oil in a clean pan over a gentle heat. Add Brussels sprouts and heat through, but don’t let them fry. Sprinkle with a few pinches of salt. Add bacon, if using, stir, then tip everything into a heated serving bowl. Spoon over the sage mixture and serve.