One of the veggies I most look forward to when it's Fall is definitely brussels sprouts. There's something about roasted sprouts that just are comforting, and the perfect transition into cooler temps. When you make brussels sprouts in a cast iron and crisp them, they taste nothing like those boring and bland sprouts you may have had growing up. And these brussels sprouts and pancetta with pine nuts and dates hit all the notes. Crispy, savory, salty and a little sweet.
No more bland brussels sprouts, OK? Because honestly, they're just not tasty at all when you boil them. In fact, I think they're actually quite gross served that way. But, when you sear brussels sprouts on a cast iron pan, you really do change the game completely! The other great thing about cooking brussels sprouts on a cast iron pan is how quickly they cook. You don't need to preheat your oven and bake them for a long time. These will cook in about 12 to 14 minutes total!
And just look at the char on them...
I love combining charred brussels sprouts with salty and delicious pancetta. The balance of flavours is amazing here. Pancetta provides a salty and savoury flavour that just can't be replicated.
If you're looking for another delicious recipe with brussels sprouts and pork, be sure to check out my shredded brussels sprouts caesar salad!
I learned the hard way, there is definitely a BIG benefit in slow cooking your pancetta. When you do this, you'll slowly render the fat off and you'll be left with softer, but still crispy pieces. If you cook it over too high of a heat and too quickly, you'll end up crisping the fat up and it won't have the best texture, it's almost too chewy. So be sure to cook low and slow, it's worth it!
You'll need about 1 lb. of sprouts for these brussels sprouts and pancetta recipe. Be sure to trim the ends off and then cut them in half. If any loose leaves fall off, that's ok. You can throw them in the cast iron pan too, they're kind of my favourite part of cast iron brussels sprouts. I love how crispy they get!
Brussels sprouts require a little sweetness which is why I like drizzling some maple syrup over top of them when they're cooking. You can also use honey as well if you want. This helps make them sticky, but not overly sweet as you're only using a little bit. I wouldn't skip it.
Dates are perfect for adding some sweetness to this savory dish. I love using medjool dates because they're soft, plump and they taste amazing. You will need about 3 large medjool dates in total.
For this recipe you'll need about 1/2 cup of cubed pancetta. If you can't find pancetta, feel free to use bacon (thick cut is great for this), or lardons. You can cook the lardons the same way as the pancetta, low and slow until the fat is rendered off.
For getting the brussels sprouts all seared I recommend using extra virgin olive oil. You can also add a little throughout cooking if needed, and at the end of cooking to add a little more flavour.
To add some crunch, I love adding in some pine nuts right before the sprouts are almost done cooking. This way, you don't have to toast them separately. Plus pine nuts are just SO tasty. If you don't have, chopped walnuts would also be great!
The first thing you'll want to do is slowly cook the pancetta. This helps to make sure that the fat is rendered off and then you'll be left with delicious crispy pancetta. To do this, add a small splash of oil to your pan. Turn the heat on medium-low. Add the pancetta and cook slowly for about 5 to 7 minutes. Keep stirring it so that it doesn't burn.
Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon, leaving that leftover fat. You'll use this to cook the brussels sprouts. Turn the heat up to medium. Add your halved sprouts to your cast iron pan, cut side down. Let them cook undisturbed for about 4 to 5 minutes. Then flip them over once they have a nice char on them. Cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, tossing every now and then to try and get all sides browned. Season with kosher salt.
Add the maple syrup and toss to combine. Then add the pancetta back in, and the pine nuts. Stir often over medium heat until the pine nuts have toasted a little. This should take about 2 minutes.
Add the chopped dates to the pan and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and add to a serving dish. Enjoy!
Something else I love about cooking these brussels sprouts and pancetta is that it reheats fairly easily. This means you can make it ahead of time too! To do so, make the whole dish and then store in a sealed container in the fridge. When you're ready to serve, simply heat a pan over medium heat and add everything back in. Reheat and stir often for about 5 minutes or so, until hot. Serve immediately and enjoy!
This recipe definitely tastes best when eaten hot, so I'd suggest reheating it either in the oven in an oven safe container or on the stove as mentioned above.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only share products and services I have personally used and love. Disclosure here.
Crispy, cast iron brussels sprouts with pancetta, dates and pine nuts combine for a perfect savory side dish.
No pancetta: use bacon, lardons or prosciutto