Baked Chiocciole with Brussels Sprouts, Apples and Blue Cheese

Baked Chiocciole with Brussels Sprouts, Apples and Blue Cheese

Confession: I almost didn’t make this week’s chosen recipe for The Food Matters Project. The recipe, Baked Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Figs, and Bleu Cheese (page 221) is actually the recipe that inspired one of my favorite dishes, my roasted brussels sprouts and cranberries with barley. This recipe also reminds me of my orecchiette with spinach and gorgonzola sauce, which is similar in its simplicity, and my Gala apple, Gorgonzola and pecan salad, a fall favorite.

Given the success of all three of those other recipes, I somehow still doubted that apples and pasta made sense together.

chopped brussels sprouts and apples

I could not have been more wrong. It’s like all three of those other dishes threw a party for Mark Bittman in my oven and, 15 minutes later, this beautiful, bubbling winter feast popped out. The resulting dish is one that combines the best qualities of all three of the others: it’s a hot, healthy, and complete meal full of fresh produce, with a light, creamy sauce, topped with toasted pecans and a squeeze of lemon. This scrumptious dish has landed permanently on my roster of all-star dinners.

brussels sprouts and apple pasta recipe

If you’re a fan of blue cheese, Brussels sprouts, apples and pasta individually, I promise you’ll love them combined. Please try this one. Perhaps for dinner, maybe tonight? Definitely make it before the weather heats up and Brussels sprouts and apples completely fall out of season (sniffle).

The technique here could not be more simple: boil water, chop some vegetables and fruit, toss pasta into the pot and, a few minutes later, toss in the sprouts. Drain, mix in some cheese, chopped apples, and a splash of oil and cooking water, bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, and top with pecans and a squeeze of lemon. Dinner is served!

baked brussels sprouts, blue cheese and pasta dish

5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Chiocciole with Brussels Sprouts, Apples and Blue Cheese
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2.5 ounces whole wheat chiocciole (about 2 cups of dried chiocciole)
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup Gorgonzola cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 2 medium organic Fuji apples, roughly chopped
  • Black pepper
  • ⅓ cup toasted pecans
  • ½ to 1 small lemon, squeezed over the cooked pasta
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9x9-inch baking pan. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook it halfway through (start checking after 3 minutes; it should still be quite firm inside). Add the Brussels sprouts to the pot and cook, until the pasta and vegetables are just barely tender, another 3 minutes. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water, and return the pasta and Brussels sprouts to the pot.
  2. Stir in the gorgonzola cheese, apples, olive oil, and a splash of the cooking water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, and taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with a little bit more Gorgonzola cheese.
  3. 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 (mine took 20). Sprinkle lemon juice over the dish and garnish it with chopped, toasted pecans.
Notes
Recipe adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Make it nut free: Omit the pecans

Comments

  1. says

    You’re right, the combo of pasta with apples kind of just sounds…weird. But I guess I’ll take your advice and give it a try ;) It does look like a fabulously comforting dish for winter!

  2. says

    What’s funny is I didn’t even think twice until I had my filling done and then I thought, “huh… I don’t think I’ve ever put fruit in pasta before. This could be bad.” But the combination turned out great! Next time I think I’ll use apples- looks delicious!

    • says

      I can’t figure out why I was so apprehensive about adding apples to pasta. Especially considering that I know apples pair well with Brussels sprouts, and Gorgonzola/pecans/apples is such a winning combination!

  3. says

    I’ve been loving apples in savory dishes lately (especially when paired with brussels sprouts!) so I am definitely going to have to try this variation. It’s quite a genius idea!

  4. says

    You make this sound so good! I’ve never thought of pasta and apples together but now I have to try it. I already have dinners planned for this week, but I’ll put this on my list for next!!

  5. says

    Interesting combo! This group sounds awesome. My friends only associate me with baking – which is fun! – but I’m interested in cooking more healthy/nourishing meals.

  6. Fiona says

    Wow. This sounds so…weird. But I am kind of obsessed with you (sorry to be all stalker-y; I’m harmless, I swear), so I’ll trust you!

    • says

      Haha! Well, I promise I wouldn’t have posted this recipe if it were not truly fantastic. It is! I just ate some leftovers for dinner and I am fighting every urge to go back and finish off the dish.

  7. Sara says

    Hi Kate!

    I came across your blog via Pinterest, and I’m so happy I did! I’m a pescetarian, but typically keep vegetarian at home. This recipe sounds wonderful & I’m excited to dive into your archives.

    Cheers!

      • says

        Thanks for your sweet comments, Sara! I really just eat what I want, which is rarely meat, and I cook vegetarian at home. No, I haven’t read The China Study yet, but I got it for Christmas and it’s in my pile of books to read. Can’t wait!

  8. Grace says

    Seriously yummy!! I made this dish for a dinner party last night, everyone loved it! Including me! :) I can’t wait to make it again and try the different variations. I went with your adaptation of the recipe and made a few changes (some intentional, some by mistake!):
    – I used organic fuji apples (fuji and gala have a similar flavor, but i always prefer the crisp texture of fuji, though it may not matter as much when baking the apple)
    – whole wheat shells (couldn’t find your recommended snail pasta)
    – toasted almonds instead of pecans–this was by accident. I burnt all the pecans I had. :( A happy mistake however! The almonds gave an excellent flavor!! And the nuts are no afterthought in this recipe! They make for the perfect bite! I even added extra to my plate :)
    – I used closer to a pound and a half of brussel sprouts – rather than 1 pound
    – I didn’t use any olive oil! (besides greasing the pan) I just realized this the day after. I totally forgot/missed this step when combining all the ingredients in the pot before transferring to the baking pan.
    – I also didn’t use any salt and pepper (besides about 1 tsp of salt in the pasta water). Oops! Also an oversight. I was very distracted–it’s stressful hosting a dinner party :/ But i swear it still tasted awesome!!
    – My pan was a rectangle, just smaller than 9×13.

    I hope to make this again very soon (I think Alex hopes the same) :) Thanks for this yummy recipe!!

  9. Elizabeth says

    Hello Kate,
    I am always looking for recipies that can be prepared ahead of time and then popped into the oven right before guests arrive. Do you think this work work, if stored in the refrigerator for a few hours ? What about overnight ?
    Thanks so much. . .

    • says

      Great question, Elizabeth. I want to say it would work but I haven’t tried it myself. I suspect it would be fine for a few hours, but I would wait to chop the apples until you’re ready to bake it. Then stir them in and top with some extra cheese. Again, just guessing here, sorry!

  10. Molly says

    I love your blog and this dish, thank you!!

    I want to make this for book club – any thoughts on what to serve with it? It’s a rather complete meal so I’m struggling to come up with something to go with it …

    Thanks!

    • says

      Thanks, Molly! That’s a tough question. It’s so full of produce that I ate it as a complete meal myself. Maybe a basic spinach salad with parmesan shavings and a lemony dressing would go well with it, but I don’t have a recipe for that. Some cookies for dessert? I have recipes for spicy molasses cookies and pumpkin cookies, both would be good for this time of year.

  11. Lauren Nevanen says

    Just made this tonight….tastes like a gourmet dinner, looks like a gourmet dinner…but oh so easy to throw together! Couldn’t get enough of all the flavors!

  12. Elizabeth says

    I guess I’m weird because I didn’t think twice about putting apples in pasta! This was super great of a dish. I went way overboard on the blue cheese (and it turned out wonderful) and saved the olive oil to drizzle over the top. Super yum! Thanks.

  13. Carolyn says

    Hi Kate! I love your blog :)

    I’m vegetarian as long as it doesn’t inconvenience other people, but my husband has a different philosophy. Every so often he feels that he is, in fact, inconvenienced by this and begs for meat. This happened just as I was planning to make this dish, so instead of adding pecans I tossed in bacon. Just for the record, it’s great! I highly recommend it to anyone else who also needs to keep peace with meat lovers :)

    • says

      Thank you for commenting, Carolyn! I do enjoy a slice of bacon on occasion and I bet it was totally delicious in this dish. Being single definitely makes it easier for me to eat an almost entirely vegetarian diet (plus, meat is expensive!). Glad your husband enjoyed this mostly vegetarian meal. :)

  14. TheDude says

    Saw your recipe on Gojee and decided to try it today. I found it surprisingly easy to make. the result looked and smelled great and tasted delicious.

    I already knew the combination sprouts/Gorgonzola but the apples and lemon juice and pecan nuts really did it for me. I didn’t even miss the meat :) Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Michelle, I think the leftovers hold up well, especially if you’re serving them chilled or at room temperature. Keep in mind that if you reheat them, the cheese will melt all over and won’t look quite as pretty. I think it will still taste great, though!

  15. WhiteHNIC says

    Question for you, Kate: Does Cookie get to eat the food you make too? I bet he is the happiest dog this side of the Mississippi!

  16. Ann says

    This looks amazing! Do you think it would still taste good without the cheese, or would that throw off the flavor balance? I LOVE blue cheese, but I’ve cut all dairy out of my diet. :(

    • says

      Thanks, Ann! I think the dish would be less rich and creamy without the blue cheese, but I bet it would still be really tasty without it.

  17. Kristina says

    Can you sub the chiocciole pasta for another? Whole wheat penne rigate maybe? (Sorry if this was asked before).

    Thanks for such an inspiring site!

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