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.
adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook
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
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.