Baked Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Figs and Blue Cheese – The Food Matters Project

I have been a big fan of Mark Bittman for a number of years.  I particularly like his ability to convey to the cook many ways to make the same recipe.  This attitude was great for me tonight when I thought I was baking the above recipe, only to find that I could not get most of the ingredients.

I have not seen gluten-free rigatoni so I subbed in penne.  Although, I am sure, kosher blue cheese is available, I have not seen it locally.  We are not fans of figs so I subbed apples which were great.  Finally and unbelievably, the local stores were out of brussels sprouts.  I called my daughter and asked her to look around and she also could not locate any.

I guess, I proved that you can  change the ingredients and come out with a facsimile of the original.

I feel particularly bad because this is the first time, I cooked with the foodies of The Food Matters Project.  This group is cooking their way through Mark Bittman’s, The Food Matters.   If you are interested, get the book and join us.

Marcia from Twenty by Sixty chose the  Baked Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Figs, and Blue Cheese (page 221), in The Food Matters.   You will find the recipe on her blog.

Marcia shares her hesitation selecting this recipe which about describes my initial reaction.  Figs? Blue Cheese? Pasta? and Brussels Sprouts?  They just shouldn’t go together but I gather they did and did so beautifully.

My combination of broccoli, Monterey Jack, Apples and Penne also worked although I didn’t believe it.  The almonds seemed to disappear into the dish and it was not until the end that I found one. This is unique but trusting Mark Bittman helps.  I had to believe the recipe was good.

Check out the other cooks at The Food Matters Project.

Mexican Spaghetti Pie

I have been making different spaghetti pies for decades.  I am trying to remember if my mother made these.   I can’t imagine where I was introduced to these pasta gems.  I just know, they were part of our married lives as far back, as I remember.

Usually, these “pies” are predominantly cheddar and the crust, which is Parmesan in this version, was a yellow cheddar, in past versions.  However, I have made these, we like them but tonight’s dish is the hands down winner.  My husband, who is not exuberant in praise,  could not stop extolling the virtues of this comfort food.

This is not a pie by any sense of the word, other than there are three layers and  we form that bottom layer to go up the sides.  Our “pie” is filled with vegetables and sauce and topped with a cream cheese-Parmesan combination.  It is baked and the cheeses meld together to form a beautiful dish with a cheesy top, browned to perfection.

Mexican Spaghetti Pie

INGREDIENTS

Crust
7  ounces uncooked vermicelli or spaghetti
1 egg
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Filling
8 ounces Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 jar (14 oz) Marinara sauce
Topping
1/4 cup light cream cheese  (I use whipped)
1 cup Mexican cheese. shredded  (Monterey Jack,  Cheddar and Asadiero)

DIRECTIONS

1 Cook and drain vermicelli as directed on package.

2 Meanwhile, heat oven to 350°F. Spray 9 1/2-inch glass deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray.

3 In large bowl, beat egg. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Add cooked vermicelli; toss to coat. Spoon mixture evenly into pie pan, pushing mixture up sides of pan to form crust.

4 Microwave vegetable for 2 – 3 minutes on high until translucent. Stir in pasta sauce. Spoon evenly into vermicelli-lined pie pan.

5 In small bowl, mix topping ingredients. Drop mixture by rounded teaspoons over filling.

6 Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until pie is thoroughly heated and crust is light golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes. To serve, cut into wedges.

Notes:

I bought the Mexican cheese in Costco in a large plastic bag.  It is a good combination and made  this dish.  The original recipe called for Mozzarella.

The original recipe called for chopped meat.  I replaced this with Ricotta cheese.

A good Meatless Monday recipe….

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