{recipe} Fettucine with Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Marcona Almonds, and Bacon

Brussels sprouts and bacon–a classic combination. Add Marcona almonds, minced shallots, and touches of cream, white wine, and parmigiano, and you have a 20-minute pasta dish that transcends the mere classic and becomes, well, pretty fancy.

Have you had a Marcona almond yet? They are not like other almonds, which is to say, OK but unexciting. Marcona almonds:

  1. are shorter and rounder in shape than regular almonds
  2. are traditionally fried or roasted in olive oil lightly before serving (or selling)
  3. taste far more buttery and delicious than regular almonds (see 2), and
  4. have a cool and exotic-sounding name.

They are kind of soft and have a wrinkly texture. They are a fantastic compliment to honey and stinky cheeses. That is, if you can refrain from eating them all before you get out the honey and the cheeses.

Marcona almonds are from Spain, where they are known as the Queen of Almonds. I’m not sure if that includes some kind of tiny, almond-sized tiara and sash or what, but I like it. I desperately want to be able to tell you that Marcona almonds come from a faraway and romantic medieval village called Marcona that’s surrounded by crumbling stone walls and has a rich oral history and Moorish-influenced architecture, but I can’t confirm that. By “can’t confirm” I mean I just made it up. Sadly, when I look in Google maps, I can’t even confirm that there is a place in Spain with that name. Suffice it to say they are from Spain and they are delicious.

But I can tell you why Brussels sprouts are called Brussels sprouts. Five bucks to the first person to guess where the Brussels sprout was first cultivated. That’s right: Belgium, of which Brussels is the capital. Knowing the Belgium connection will help people remember the spelling too–since they are often mistakenly referred to as Brussel sprouts or Brussel’s sprouts. But this isn’t supposed to be a spelling lesson, so I’ll just get to the recipe.

Fettucine with Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Marcona Almonds, and Bacon
serves 2


  • 1/4 lb bacon, cut in small pieces
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, diced finely
  • 6-8 oz Brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed, and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tblsp heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 3 Tblsp Marcona almonds, chopped coarsely
  • 8 oz fresh or dried fettucine


  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the fettucine.
  • Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large saute pan over medium low heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon. Pour bacon grease out of the pan, leaving about a tablespoon of grease still in the pan.
  • Increase heat to medium and put shallots and Brussels sprouts in the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until sprouts are browning and shallots are translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  • While shallots and sprouts are browning, bring the fettucine water back to the boil and add noodles to cook. When they are cooked al dente, remove them to a bowl with tongs, reserving the pasta water.
  • When the Brussels sprouts and shallots are browned, add white wine and lemon zest. Cook until wine evaporates. Add cream and parmesan and cook about 30 seconds, just to heat through and combine. Add about 1/2 cup of pasta water and cook, stirring, until sauce is creamy. Add almonds and bacon and stir to heat and combine.
  • Toss sauce with pasta. Garnish with parmesan and almonds and serve immediately.

You may also like...