Jeanine here, and growing up, I was force-fed vegetables just as much as the next kid. Broccoli was at the top of my hate list, closely followed by mushy cooked carrots (which I still won’t eat to this day), but I never had to face brussels sprouts. My mom didn’t like them as a child, so she never subjected our family to them. I felt lucky about this… if the adults wouldn’t eat them, they must be that bad.

I don’t know what prompted brussels sprouts to go from America’s most hated veggie to darn near the most loved one, but I’m glad they did. Like most things, I’m sure it has everything to do with the preparation. They’re so great roasted until golden, or flash fried until crisp. Here, I coat them with a little balsamic and pan-roast them, then toss with shells, a little cheese and some bright squeezes of lemon. Keep reading for the recipe.

Shells & Brussels Sprouts

serves 2-3


  • olive oil
  • 1/4 red onion (less than 1/2 cup), chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups brussels sprouts, sliced in half
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • squeezes of lemon juice, plus some zest for the end
  • 6-8 oz. mini pasta shells
  • 1/2 cup pecorino cheese, shredded
  • a few pinches of red pepper flakes
  • optional addition: crispy bacon or pancetta


  1. In a large skillet, cook the onions in just a bit of the olive oil with a few pinches of salt. Once they’re soft (3-4 minutes), add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Turn off the heat and remove the onions from the pan.
  2. In a small bowl, toss the brussels sprout halves in a bit of balsamic vinegar, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Wipe out the pan you just used for the onions and heat more olive oil and the butter. When the pan is screaming hot add the brussels sprouts, cut side down. Without moving them, let them cook for about 3-4 minutes, until they develop a nice char (check and reduce heat & time if they’re burning).
  4. Flip them over and add a good squeeze of lemon to deglaze the pan. Toss them around a bit. Reduce heat to low, and add a few tablespoons of water. Cover and let them steam until tender (approx. 4-5 minutes more).
  5. Boil shells in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente.
  6. Toss together the shells, onions, brussels sprouts, more lemon juice, and most of the pecorino. Taste and adjust seasonings. Finish with remaining cheese, lemon zest and red pepper flakes.

*photos & recipe by Love & Lemons

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Comments (8)
  1. 1
    Sarah [Sarah The Architect] March 7, 2013 at 9:44 am

    I’d never eaten brussel sprouts until recently either and of course was pleasantly surprised! This recipe looks great for a first attempt at preparing them myself. Thanks Jeanine!

  2. 2
    Katie O'Keefe March 7, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I am always looking for new ways to integrate vegetables more into our meals. My husband is a true carnivore so it’s hard to add any greens. This looks delicious, we’ll have to try it!

  3. 3
    888julienne888 March 7, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    I think brussel sprouts got a bad rap back in the day because it was hard to find them fresh. Most people are used to the frozen, flavorless packages. I’m always looking for different ways to use my favorite vegetable, so thank you!

  4. 4
    Emilia March 8, 2013 at 1:36 am

    Oh my gosh, this looks delicious. I love sprouts, but I’ve never had them with pasta before. This is a must try! 🙂

  5. 5 March 8, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Looks delicious! I absolutely ADORE brussel sprouts!!

  6. 6
    Cookie and Kate March 13, 2013 at 11:40 am

    My mom never served brussels sprouts, either, but I’m so glad to have discovered them on my own! This dish looks fabulous, Jeanine.

  7. 7
    Sadye April 9, 2013 at 8:57 am

    This is FANTASTIC and actually really easy (I’m a novice cook)! I can’t wait to keep making Brussels sprouts this way, with or without pasta.