The holidays are not the time to fixate on vegetables. With things like prime rib and eggnog pie on the menu, there are too many other goodies. Why fill up on salad when you can leave room for more dessert? These Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts, however, are an exception. With their crispy leaves, salty pancetta, and sweet chestnuts, they are a side dish worth filling up on.
I like to think of brussels sprouts as a gateway vegetable. They’re not bitter like broccoli, nor vegetal tasting like kale. But they’re also not as mellow as butter lettuce. If you can get someone to eat brussels sprouts, they may be on their way to the likes of bok choy, cauliflower, and swiss chard.
There are a few tricks to making brussels sprouts delicious. The first is not boiling them. Instead, we roast them. The leaves get crispy (my favorite part) and the sprout itself gets tender. I like them with a generous coating of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt before they hit the oven. The more parts that turn brown in the oven, the better they will be!
The second trick is to pair them with other flavors. For this recipe, I chose pancetta and chestnuts. Pancetta is bacon’s unsmoked cousin. It’s cured and dried, and in this case chopped into tiny pieces. The pieces will turn brown like bacon, but not quite give off as much fat. It adds a nice salty bite to the roasted brussels sprouts.
The chestnuts add a sweetness to the dish, and their slightly chewy texture is a nice addition to the crisp leaves and crispy pancetta. I found a bag of roasted and peeled chestnuts at my local grocery store. I quartered them and sautéed them in olive oil before adding them to the cooked brussels sprouts and pancetta. They would get far too brown and chewy in the oven cooking for the same amount of time as the sprouts.
The end result of Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts is a side dish worthy of your holiday table. The flavors pair well together, the color is festive, and your guests will love the play of textures and flavors.
I served Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts as a side dish for my Christmas dinner with Kelley of Haviland Events. She supplied the table decor and dishes (check out her how-to here!) and Liz of EJD Designs supplied the Christmas placemats, which she handlettered(!).
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts
Yield 6–8 servings
- 1½ lbs brussels sprouts
- 2 oz diced pancetta
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 (5oz) bag peeled and roasted chestnuts (about 1 cup) chestnuts, quartered
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice the stem off each brussels sprout. Slice each sprout in half. Place the sprouts and pancetta on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat the brussels sprouts with the olive oil.
- Bake for 30–35 minutes, or until the edges are crispy and the brussels sprouts are cooked through.
- Meanwhile, place the quartered chestnuts with the remaining tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the chestnuts begin to turn light brown. Remove from the heat.
- Toss the chestnuts with the cooked brussels sprouts and pancetta. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately.