It’s a beautiful Columbus Day weekend in Boston, and David and I have spent an enjoyable week watching baseball and football. He’s a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, who had a close finish in their series against the Phillies a few days ago (though their game last night wasn’t so fun). I’ve been watching the games with him (while I study, of course) and I’ve been really entertained by the little squirrel that keeps popping up inside the stadium.
But I got some cooking in this week, too. I made one of our favorite pastas from Mark Bittman’s book, The Food Matters Cook Book. It has figs, Brussels sprouts, and rigatoni, all held together in a pungent but not overwhelming blue cheese sauce. It’s also mostly healthy; it’s full of cheesy goodness, but it also has loads of fruits and vegetables.
The Brussels sprouts, as prepared in the original recipe, have a slightly bitter taste to them, even when cooked. If you’re a fan of bitter greens, feel free to leave the recipe as is. To bring out some of the sweetness in the veggies, I would turn to what seems like my now-favorite technique: roasting the veggies before adding them to the final dish. So even though the Birds are now struggling against the Brewers, the Packers beat Atlanta yesterday (along with BC’s own Matt Ryan), and I can happily tuck into my bowl of pasta.
Baked Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Figs, and Blue Cheese
From Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cook Book
2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
8 ounces whole wheat rigatoni (about 1/2 a box)
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
4 ounces Gorgonzola or other blue cheese, crumbled
6-8 fresh figs, or 1 cup dried, chopped figs
1. Heat the oven to 400-degrees. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan with olive oil. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and sprinkle in a generous pinch of salt. Add the pasta and cook it halfway through (it should be firm inside – start checking 3 minutes into cooking). Add the Brussels sprouts to the pot and cook, until the pasta and vegetables are barely tender, another 3 minutes. (If you roast the Brussels sprouts beforehand, don’t add them to the pasta water — wait until Step 2). Drain, reserving some cooking water. Return the pasta and vegetables to the pot.
2. Stir in the blue cheese, figs, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, and a splash of the cooking water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, and taste. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Turn the pasta into the prepared baking dish.
3. Bake until the mixture is bubbling, 15-20 minutes. Add more pasta water if it appears dry. Serve immediately.