Rigatoni with Figs & Brussels Sprouts

A veggie-packed pasta dish for fall & winter. Brussels sprouts, greens, cheese & figs combine to create a sweet & savory entree with a crispy baked topping.

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 lighter 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.


Rigatoni with Figs & Brussels Sprouts
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces whole grain rigatoni
  • 1.5 pounds Brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
  • 4 ounces fontina cheese, chopped in small cubes
  • 1 cup dried figs
  • Handful arugula or other baby wilt-able greens (spinach would be great)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup chopped almonds
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
  2. Boil your pasta until cooked halfway through (3-4 minutes). Add the 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.
  3. Return the pasta & Brussels sprouts to the empty pot. Stir in the cheese, figs, greens, two tablespoons of olive oil, and a splash of the reserved pasta water. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and taste and adjust seasonings.
  4. Pour pasta into the baking pan, top with the almonds and panko, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top.

 

18 comments

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  1. Lena from mrsgarlichead.com
    02.27.2012

    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
    02.27.2012

    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
    02.27.2012

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

  4. 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
    02.27.2012

    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. Margarita from letscookandbefriends.blogspot.com
    02.27.2012

    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.

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

  8. Kristen from mindyourbeesandtrees.com
    02.27.2012

    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!!

  9. Joanne from joanne-eatswellwithothers.com
    02.28.2012

    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!

  10. Jenn
    01.01.2013

    The website you listed is no longer active, is there any way you can post this recipe?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

    • jeanine
      01.02.2013

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

      • Jenn
        01.05.2013

        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
          01.06.2013

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

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.