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!
Baked Chiocciole with Brussels Sprouts, Apples and Blue Cheese
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Entree
An incredibly simple and scrumptious winter meal. It’s good for you, too. Make this for dinner!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 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
- 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.
Recipe adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Make it nut free: Omit the pecans
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!
If you like all of the ingredients separately, I pinkie promise you’ll love them combined!
Here’s the thing, yup, it’s weird. But it’s also outrageously good. Just try it out and you will be surprised by how amazing it is. This was a delight and I can’t wait to make it again.
Great to hear, Sarah! Thank you for sharing.
Looks amazing! And I love the salty & sweet combination!
Ah! Some lemon on the pasta! I will have to try that because I still have leftovers. I was also surprised that this dish turned out so good!
IN LOVE with this recipe. I too was afraid of the pasta/fruit combo, but I’m now totally open to it. #TFMP=success!
Ya see, I could shovel this into my head for the rest of my days and it would STILL not be enough.
looks insanely awesome, lady!
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!
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!
apples + carbs… always a good idea ;)
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!
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!!
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.
Apples in pasta? If you and Mark Bittman say it’s delicious then I believe it! I love all the ingredients here about blue cheese, but I’m sure I can find a way around that. Just gorgeous!
What a fun recipe! I am in loooove!
The pecans sound divine with the blue cheese!
love your baking dish Kate. ;) great colors with the skin on the apples. I took the skin of mine off, but now I am thinking otherwise.
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!
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.
Great pictures Kate! I was debating between dried cranberries or apples. I can’t wait to try this delicious recipe with apples now.
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.
PS. I love the Food Matters theory! Have you read ‘The China Study’?
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!
Apples and potatoes are a good combination. Your dish sounds delicious!
Caroline @ chocolate
mmm…brussel sprouts make everything better. This looks incredible!!!
janet @ taste space
hahaha, sometimes I look at two recipes and think they will taste similar… and then they DONT which is great if I come out with 2 new favourite recipes. :) Love it!
whoa, that looks so good!
Oh my. Apples and pasta? You’re a crazy genius woman. Love it. Looks like such a warming, cozy dish.
Kate, this is so awesome. I love every single ingredient in here, and I imagine they are even better together!
wow, looks absolutely delicious! may have to add these things to tonight’s grocery list. lovely pictures too :-)
Cathy @ Savory Notes
To me, this combination sounds phenomenal! And I’ve been looking everywhere for a recipe that does something different with brussels sprouts. Cant wait to try this one out!
Hi, what other kind of cheese would be good with this. I’m allergic to blue
Hello! I think goat cheese would be great, or perhaps a melty cheese like Fontina!
Something nutty like Asiago might go well. I have made a recipe from Giada D (food network) that has Brussels sprouts, onions, mushrooms, lemon, and slivered almonds on pasta that is great with Asiago.
Oh, Giada’s dish sounds marvelous. Thanks for the inspiration!
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!!
Beautiful photos — and I love this recipe. I, too, will be sad when Brussels sprouts are no longer in season!
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. . .
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!
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, 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.
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!
Thanks, Lauren! I think it’s about time I made this dish again.
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.
So glad you enjoyed this dish, Elizabeth. Apples and pasta are meant to be!
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 :)
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. :)
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!
How does this hold up for leftovers?
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!
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!
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. :(
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.
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!
Hey Kristina! Yes, you should be able to substitute any large tubular shaped pasta for the chiocciole. Penne should work well.
I found this recipe when I had brussel sprouts, apples, and a piece of questionable blue cheese I had to use up, and I figured it probably wouldn’t be very good (apples in pasta?) but it’d probably be the only recipe I’d find hitting all those ingredients. I was so, so wrong. It was DELICIOUS. Seriously amazing! And I don’t even like blue cheese! You are clearly a genius and I’ve now signed up for your mailing list. :)
Thanks, Circe! I thought this pasta would taste crazy, too, but I loved it!
This was totally delicious! I used Danish Blue cheese, simply because that’s what I had in the fridge, and I toasted some cashews instead of pecans, again just because that’s what I had available. Next time I make it – and I will definitely make it again – I’ll try a Granny Smith apple for some extra tartness. The leftovers made a lovely cold lunch the next day.
Thank you, Liz!
Wow, this recipe is a keeper! Great combination of flavors – healthy and delicious.
We made this meal and it was delicious! I felt though that the leftovers aren’t quite as good as it is hot out of the oven. It might be interesting to try with some other tangy cheeses as well, like Havarti… Just a thought. Thank you Kate! We have a new healthy pasta go to.
I made a variation on this tonight: rotini instead of chiocciole, and I had a bunch of rapini (broccoli rabe) that needed to be used up so I used that instead of the brussels sprouts. In order to retain the full flavour of the rapini, I sauteed it rather than adding it to the pasta and boiling it. Oh, and I used Danish blue cheese instead of gorganzola (because that’s what I had). I’ve no idea what kind of apple I used – just whatever was in the fruit bowl. Anyway, the whole thing was delicious!
I was so skeptical, but darn if this isn’t delicious. I hope the leftovers hold. Thanks again Kate!
Umm… is it possible I haven’t rated this?? This recipe has been a fall staple for 3 years now. I purposely buy brussel sprouts on the stalk from Trader Joe’s, cut off the sprouts and use them just to make this recipe. If the combo of the ingredients sound weird – just try it, I promise you will LOVE this. Recipe is easy and very forgiving. I’ve tried different pasta shapes, apples, adding craisins for a pop of color, and different cheeses and all variants ohave been tasty. This literally is one of the most underrated recipes on the Internet.
That’s wonderful, JC! Thank you for taking the time to review.
It took me a while to try this because I thought the combination of ingredients sounded weird but, I’m so glad I tried it. So tasty and it comes together very quickly.
This is one of our favorite go-to recipes. Thank you! I’m not a very good cook so really appreciate that it’s easy, filling & healthy. Love this recipe!
Great to hear, June! Thank you for your review.