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.
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.
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!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2.5 ounces whole wheat chiocciole (about 2 cups of dried chiocciole)
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
- 2 medium organic Fuji apples, roughly chopped
- Black pepper
- 1/3 cup toasted pecans
- 1/2 to 1 small lemon, squeezed over the cooked pasta
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9×9-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.
- 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.
- 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.