Rigatoni with figs & brussels sprouts

It’s Food Matters Project Monday… I have to say, at first, I wasn’t excited about this week’s pick… I even almost skipped it entirely, but I’m so glad I didn’t!

Flipping through any cookbook, this would never be a recipe I would stop on. The original recipe calls for blue cheese, which I don’t care for. And creamy, cheesy pasta dishes aren’t exactly my thing (I’m lactose intolerant, it’s not my fault). But it turns out, for comfort food, this is actually on the ligher side and the brussels sprout and fig combo is just so delicious.

There’s a bit of cheese, but not too much… and instead of milk or cream, it’s thickened with a bit of starchy pasta water. I used fontina instead of blue cheese. Fresh figs weren’t available, so I used dried ones and they worked well (although I would try fresh next time). Either way, I just love the contrast of these salty & sweet flavors.

I mixed in a large handful of arugula (raw, just before pouring the mixture into the baking pan), and instead of crushed almonds I sprinkled a little panko on top for a crispy baked crust.

I used this whole grain pasta that I had never tried before, and it was the perfect nutty compliment. Brown rice pasta would also work well here.

serves 4
adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook

INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces whole grain rigatoni
1.5 pounds of brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
4 ounces fontina cheese, chopped in small cubes
1 cup dried figs
handful of arugula or other baby wilt-able greens (spinach would be great)
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt & pepper

METHOD:
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

Boil your pasta until cooked halfway through (3-4 minutes). Add brussels sprouts and cook for another 3 or so minutes until the brussels sprouts are just starting to become tender. Drain, and reserve some of the pasta water.

Return the pasta & brussels sprouts to the (empty) pot. Stir in the cheese, figs, two tablespoons of olive oil and a splash of the reserved pasta water. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, taste and adjust seasonings.

Pour pasta into the baking pan, top with almonds and panko and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top.

 

18 comments

  1. Lena from mrsgarlichead.com on said:

    I don’t care too much for cheesy casseroles either, but this recipe was really good. Cheesy but not too heavy. Interesting that so many participants almost skipped this recipe, but everyone liked it in the end. Love it

  2. erin from naturallyella.com on said:

    Love the additions of the greens! I almost skipped it too (mainly because I didn’t have any pasta) but I ended up making it (and loving it!)

    Beautiful Dish, Jeanine!

  3. Jenn from vanillalemon.com on said:

    Mmm, yes, adding greens is a wonderful idea. And, I LOVE your yellow dish!

  4. Courtney Jones from thefigtree.blogspot.com on said:

    Beautiful. Love the idea of pairing a strong cheese like fontina with some sweet figs and bitter greens. Really great flavours for a pasta dish. Thanks for sharing :) Lovely photo as always! :)

  5. Heather from sundaymorningbananapancakes.blogspot.com on said:

    I love the idea of combining figs and brussel sprouts with pasta; this is my kind of dish!
    So glad that you didn’t in fact skip over this and decided to make it; thanks for sharing :)

  6. I LOVE figs and am so happy that you added greens – great idea!

  7. Margarita from letscookandbefriends.blogspot.com on said:

    I kept adding the pasta water that I saved too to keep my pasta from getting too dry as it was baking. Lovely bakeware! I have one in red.

  8. Nicole Franzen from nicolefranzen.blogspot.com on said:

    Ive never thought about putting dried figs in a pasta, I’m intrigued… must be delicious with the blue cheese! Sorry vegan :)

  9. Kristen from mindyourbeesandtrees.com on said:

    I was very skeptical about this dish too, but also found it to be pretty light–especially for a pasta dish! I love that you threw in some arugula…great idea!!

  10. Joanne from joanne-eatswellwithothers.com on said:

    I’m so glad you tried it even though you were on the fence. In the end, I kind of wanted a more melty cheese so fontina sounds like a great addition!

  11. Jenn on said:

    The website you listed is no longer active, is there any way you can post this recipe? It sounds wonderful!

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com on said:

      oh yes, of course, I’ll post here a little later today…

      • Jenn on said:

        Thanks so much, I can’t wait to make it! I’m new to your site and although I’m vegan your site is giving me so much inspiration. It’s also beautifully designed! Thanks for the good food! :)

        • jeanine from loveandlemons.com on said:

          thanks & welcome! (although sorry that particular recipe isn’t vegan)…

  12. Pingback: in the mood of some major cooking inspo | m i c h i t e c t u r e

  13. Pingback: Foods by Color: Brussels Sprouts

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