When I first glanced at the recipe ingredients, my thoughts were, “Shoot, I just used up all my figs for the newtons that I made last weekend.” I pretty much had everything else but the rigatoni and Brussels sprouts. But then I read on and realized that I can substitute the figs for apples, pears, or cranberries. This is why I like Mark Bittman’s recipes, there’s always room for creativity and he encourages playing with ingredients and flavors.
Believe it or not, I still have leftover fig newton filling that happens to have: dried figs, dried cranberries, and apple juice. Trifecta! (Ewww… did I just use that word?) Anyhoo, this fig newton filling lasted forever and I have enjoyed it in homemade fig newtons, jam for toast and sandwiches, and sweetener for quinoa cereal. Use it as a sauce for this baked rigatoni and brussel sprouts dish, why not?
Since I used a whole pound of rigatoni, I decided to add more cheese and chop up some apples. There wasn’t enough blue cheese and besides too much of it is overwhelming. So, I grated fresh mozzarella and Pecorino Romano. The combination of pungent, lightly salty, and very salty cheeses was wonderful.
This dish is full of very interesting flavors… the sweetness of the fig-cran-apple sauce and the apple pieces stave off the slight bitterness of the Brussels sprouts, the three cheeses add a luscious blend of creamy saltiness, and the almond garnish gives a nice crunch to every bite.
Here’s a quick glance of the ingredients that I used:
1 lb rigatoni1 ½ lbs Brussels sprouts, chopped
2 small apples, chopped
8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
¼ cup mozzarella, freshly grated
¼ cup Pecorino Romano, freshly grated
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of fig-cranberry-apple juice sauce (this was the filling leftover from the Jenna Weber fig newtons that I made)
As mentioned above, Marcia has the original recipe and directions posted on her website. The other members of The Food Matter’s Project always have the most interesting creations and personal touches to every dish, so check out their takes on this one.
Do give this dish a try… you will be surprised! It is almost reminiscent of mac and cheese, with a touch of class and sweetness. Trust me!