“Paging Al Dente. Mr. Al Dente, please call the information desk.” Notice that we’re not paging Mr. Al Dante, who is commonly requested, but doesn’t exist.
But Mr. Al Dente, “Mr. To the Tooth,” does indeed exist and is, in fact, the difference between a good and a bad bowl of pasta, between the edible and the inedible for Italians.
Pasta should be cooked firm — at least two minutes less than the package instructions. Anything more renders the pasta mush (mere noodles)!
Of course, we also like our vegetables prepared al dente. But in today’s case, the Brussels sprouts are caramelized, sauteed slowly with onions and pancetta to savory-sweet perfection.
Take my advice, find Mr. Al Dente, and invite him to dinner. You’ll never eat pasta without him again.
Check out our wine pairings to complement this dish.
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the pancetta and the Brussels sprouts. Over medium low heat, cook together until the ingredients are golden. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Cook the pasta until al dente (about 1–2 minutes less than manufacturer’s directions) drain, and reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta and some of its water to the Brussels sprouts mixture and cook for one minute.
Serve with grated Parmigiano.