It’s great fun being part of a group that is dedicated to promoting healthy recipes and healthy eating habits. We’re blogging about the recipes from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matter’s Cookbook, and each week we all cook the same recipe, as he wrote it, or with our own twist. To be honest, after I read the title of the recipe, “Baked Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Figs, and Blue Cheese,” I thought that I should opt out for the week. Fortunately, I stuck with it.
As I started to put the dinner together, my 14 year-old saw the figs on the kitchen counter said, “No way, I’m not eat’n that!” And of course, I retorted with the typical mom talk, “Yes you will. You’ll eat it and you’ll like it” … not being sure if he really would. At that point I wasn’t even sure if I would. The conclusion was that both my husband and I, and even my 14 year-old loved it, loved it!!
I followed the recipe as Mark wrote it, except that I used fusilli, ½ the amount of dried figs, and used more nuts. After making this recipe, there is one thing I changed to make this healthy recipe even healthier. Mark’s procedure has you add the Brussels sprouts to the pasta in the boiling water; but vegetables lose their nutrients by boiling. I’ve changed the recipe so the pasta and vegetable cook separately and are then added together with the other ingredients before going into the oven.
Prep Time: 30 min
Baking Time: 15 minutes
1 tablespoons olive, plus more for greasing the pan
8 ounces fusilli, whole wheat preferably
1-1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
4 ounces gorgonzola cheese, or other mild blue cheese, crumbled
½ cup figs, chopped into small pieces (top stem cut off and discarded)
1/3 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup chopped pecans, or almonds
1) Heat the oven to 400° F. Grease a 9X13-inch baking pan with a little olive oil. And bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.
2) Get a steamer set up and steam the Brussels sprouts until they are ¾ cooked. You will cook them until they near done, but still require a bit more cooking. Start the next step as soon as you get the Brussels sprouts going.
3) Add the pasta to the boiling pot of water and cook until it is about three-quarters done. It should be tender but still have bite to it in the center. When the pasta is done, drain it and reserve about 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid. (Note*- If the pasta finishes before the Brussels sprouts, put the strained pasta and 3 tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid into the large bowl—from step 4—and stir in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together).
4) In a large bowl, put the fusilli, Brussels sprouts, figs, blue cheese, salt, black pepper, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and about 3 tablespoons of the pasta water, and mix it together well. Check the seasonings and add more salt and pepper if needed. Pour this mixture into the 9×13-inch greased pan and top it with the chopped nuts.
5) Bake, checking once or twice and adding a bit more of the cooking water if the pasta looks too dry, until the mixture is bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes.
Baked Fusilli with Brussels Sprouts, Figs, and Blue Cheese may become your new casserole go to.