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Baked Fontina Pasta with Brussels Sprouts & Sage Breadcrumbs

Gooey, salty goodness—that’s what this recipe is in a nutshell.  It is my sworn duty to share this amazingness with you.

Fontina Pasta with Brussels Sprouts & Sage Breadcrumbs

I’ve had my eye on it for a couple months now, but just hadn’t found the right time to make it.  I actually even started to make it one Sunday…bought the ingredients, pasta water boiling, started to shred the brussels sprouts.  And then my craving for nachos became too much and I stopped mid-chop.  Because the heart wants what the heart wants, and the heart wanted nachos.  And the knifework still hurt because of my sprained thumb, which was my excuse.

Fontina Pasta with Brussels Sprouts & Sage Breadcrumbs done

But I definitely came back to it a few weeks later when the brussels sprouts looked good.  And boy, was it worth it.  Because this is the very definition of comfort food, and it’s so easy.  It’s also surprisingly healthy for a cheesy pasta bake, since the bechamel is made with the starchy pasta water instead of the traditional milk.  The result is a slightly thinner, silky sauce that clings to every crevice of your ruffly pasta, and doesn’t leave you feeling weighed down.  And that’s a win-win.

fontina pasta with brussels sprouts & sage breadcrumbs brussels sprouts shredded

Prep first.  Cut off and discard the stem ends of the Brussels sprouts.  Cut the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise and thinly slice the halves to shred them.

fontina pasta with brussels sprouts & sage breadcrumbs sage chopped

Pick the sage leaves off the stems and finely mince the leaves.  Peel and thinly slice the shallot.

fontina pasta with brussels sprouts & sage breadcrumbs toasted panko

In a medium nonstick pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot.  Add most of the sage (I saved a bit back) and breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes, or until fragrant and browned.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the pan.

fontina pasta with brussels sprouts & sage breadcrumbs sausages

Go ahead and cook the meat ahead of time if you’re using it.  I use Trader Joe’s chicken sausage (usually the pre-cooked sundried tomato one), slice it into little discs, then saute in a tablespoon of olive oil until golden on both sides (about 5-7 minutes).

Now you’re ready to rock and roll.  Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside. Heat a large pot of of water on high until it boils.  Add salt, but go easy on it since the cheese is really salty.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 6-9 minutes.  Reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water [THIS IS IMPORTANT], then drain the rest and set the cooked pasta aside.

fontina pasta with brussels sprouts & sage breadcrumbs shallot

In the same pan, heat another 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (1 to 2 minutes).

fontina pasta with brussels sprouts & sage breadcrumbs brussels sprouts cooking

Add the brussels sprouts to the shallots, season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  They’ll turn bright green and soften.  Remove from heat.

fontina pasta with brussels sprouts & sage breadcrumbs roux

In the same pot used to cook the pasta (or a large non-stick pan, melt the butter on medium-high.  Once melted, add the flour and whisk quickly and consistently for about 30 seconds, until toasted and fragrant.

fontina pasta with brussels sprouts & sage breadcrumbs bechamel

Slowly whisk in the cream, then start adding the pasta water a little at a time, whisking to incorporate. Keep adding more and whisking, until all of it’s stirred in and the mixture thickens.  I added the rest of the sage here as well, just for a little extra flavor.

fontina pasta with brussels sprouts & sage breadcrumbs bechamel fontina

Add the fontina cheese and stir in until melted.  Remove from heat.

fontina pasta with brussels sprouts & sage breadcrumbs assembled

Add the cooked pasta, sausage, and Brussels sprouts to the pot of bechamel sauce.  Stir until thoroughly combined.  Season with salt and pepper to taste [i.e. taste it]—the cheese is really salty!

fontina pasta with brussels sprouts & sage breadcrumbs assembled 2

Pour the mixture into it, then top with the breadcrumbs.

fontina pasta with brussels sprouts & sage breadcrumbs assembled breadcrumbs

Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until bubbly.

Fontina Pasta with Brussels Sprouts & Sage Breadcrumbs finished

Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 2 minutes before serving.

Fontina Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Sage Breadcrumbs

Melty, salty, sausage-y, brussel sprouts pasta goodness.  It’s just the perfect cozy winter dinner, and makes awesome leftovers too.

Baked Fontina Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Chicken Sausage, & Sage Breadcrumbs

  • 12 ounces of campanelle pasta (something like shells, penne or rotini would also work great)
  • 3 ounces of fontina cheese, grated/shredded
  • 8 ounces of brussels sprouts
  • 1-2 bunches of sage, pulled from the stems & minced finely
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 3 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs
  • Optional:  chicken sausage (I use Trader Joe’s sundried tomato version)
  1. Prep first.  Cut off and discard the stem ends of the Brussels sprouts.  Cut the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise and thinly slice the halves to shred them.  Pick the sage leaves off the stems and finely mince the leaves.  Peel and thinly slice the shallot.
  2. If you’re using meat, go ahead and cook it ahead of time. I slice the chicken sausages into little discs, then saute in a tablespoon of olive oil until golden on both sides (about 5-7 minutes; they’re pre-cooked).
  3. Preheat the oven to 450°F.  Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside. Heat a large pot of of water on high until it boils.  Add salt, but go easy on it since the cheese is really salty.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 6-9 minutes.  Reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water [THIS IS IMPORTANT], then drain the rest.
  4. While the pasta cooks, in a medium nonstick pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot.  Add most of the the sage and breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes, or until fragrant and browned.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the pan.
  5. In the same pan, heat another 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (1 to 2 minutes).  Add the brussels sprouts to the shallots, season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  They’ll turn bright green and soften.  Remove from heat.
  6. In the same pot used to cook the pasta (or a large non-stick pan, melt the butter on medium-high.  Once melted, add the flour and whisk quickly and consistently for about 30 seconds, until toasted and fragrant.  Slowly whisk in the cream, then start adding the pasta water a little at a time, whisking to incorporate. Keep adding more and whisking, until all of it’s stirred in and the mixture thickens.  I added the rest of the minced sage here too, for a little something extra.  Add the fontina cheese and stir in until melted.  Remove from heat.
  7. Add the cooked pasta, sausage, and Brussels sprouts to the pot of bechamel sauce.  Stir until thoroughly combined.  Season with salt and pepper to taste [i.e. taste it]—the cheese is really salty!  Pour the mixture into it, then top with the breadcrumbs.  Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until bubbly.  Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 2 minutes before serving.

Original recipe from The Baker Chick

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