Category Archives: Pastas

Summer Vegetable Mixed Grill with Chimichurri

Yes folks, it’s another The Food Matters Project Monday!  So many new things have come out of my kitchen due to this project and this is no exception. The Food Matters Project has been (and I am sure will continue to be!) a very fun project for me.  It has involved cooking along with about 50 other food bloggers and seeing what amazing variations they all come up with.  It’s been fun and inspiring and always pushes me to try new things outside of my repertoire. This week’s recipe was chosen by Lexi.  Click on her name and head over to see her inspiring blog, Lexi’s kitchen.  This week, all of the vegetables in her dish were picked from her own garden!  Awesome, Lexi!

This week’s recipe features chimichurri, a quick and easy Argentinian herb sauce.  My first chimichurri sauce came about a couple of months ago after reading ahead in the Food Matters schedule and seeing this choice from Lexi.  I didn’t want to wait!  It definitely amped up my dish then but making it again a couple months later with mixed grilled vegetables on a beautiful summer night really brought out the best in it.

MIXED GRILL WITH CHIMICHURRI
(Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook)
Makes 4 servings    Time  45 minutes
  • 1 or 2 eggplants, cut into thick slices
  • 2 cups fresh parsley (mostly leaves, but thin stems are okay)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves (I used 1 big fresh clove and it did the work of 3 supermarket garlic cloves)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for grilling
  • 2 TBSP. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. red chile flakes
  • 2 portobello mushrooms
  • 2 summer squash, cut lengthwise into thick slices
  • 1 bunch scallions
  1. Prepare a grill or turn on the broiler; the heat should be medium-high and the rack about 4 inches from the fire. If time allows, sprinkle the eggplant liberally with salt, let rest in a colander for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour, rinse, and pat dry.
  2. Combine the parsley with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, the garlic, and about 1/4 cup of the oil in a food processor or blender. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container once or twice. With the machine running, add the remaining 1/4 cup oil gradually, then add the lemon juice and chile flakes. Add a little bit of water if you want a thinner mixture. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  3. Brush the eggplant, portobellos, and squash with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill or broil the pieces, turning occasionally, until browned and tender, 15 to 20 minutes. When the mushrooms are done, slice them. As all the vegetables finish, transfer them to a large serving platter.
  4. Finally, cook the scallions (no need to brush them with oil), turning once or twice, until they are lightly charred, just a minute or two. Drizzle some of the chimichurri over the vegetables and pass the rest at the table.  I served mine with some whole wheat angel hair pasta topped with…what else?  Chimichurri!

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

This week on the Food Matters Project was an interesting one for me.  Baked pasta (yum!)…brussel sprouts (yum!)…figs (?) and bleu cheese (meh).  I love pasta.  I love brussel sprouts (especially roasted or sauteed with a bit of proscuitto).  I like figs quite a bit, especially as a fig jam with manchego cheese and crackers.  But in a pasta?  And I have a love/hate relationship with bleu cheese.  Sometimes a wedge salad with bleu cheese sounds and tastes wonderful but other times bleu cheese can taste to me like it came from the bottom of a barn floor.  Yech.

Well, I am committed to this project no matter where it leads me so I thought I would give it a go.  I wanted to stick to the main ingredients (pasta, brussel sprouts, figs, and bleu cheese) so I could respect the dish and give it a shot.  But I couldn’t seem to stop myself from adding some caramelized red onion–just felt right.

The resulting dish was surprisingly good.  I’ll be honest–I could take or leave the figs.  They added an interesting texture and crunch but I would forgo buying them just for this dish.  I would suggest subbing caramelized onion and some flecks of proscuitto for flavor and crunch in lieu of the figs.  But really, it was good and comfort-foody and perfect for a cold February night in Michigan.

One thing to note is that if you reheat the dish, it loses some creaminess and color.  I reheated it later in the day in the oven and it was a little sad compared to it’s creamy gorgeousness earlier in the day.  So plan on eating it up, at least if you want what’s on your plate to be pretty!

Baked Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Figs, and Blue Cheese

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 45 minutes

Many cheesy baked pastas depend on béchamel—the classic sauce made with flour, butter, and milk—for creaminess. But this is a very cool alternative that combines a variety of textures and flavors (including fruit) without diluting the taste of the cheese. Pears, apples, and cranberries would all be fine here, and if you’re not keen on blue cheese, try fontina, Gruyère, or anything that melts easily.

  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
  2. Salt
  3. 8 ounces rigatoni, preferably whole wheat
  4. 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
  5. 4 ounces Gorgonzola or other blue cheese, crumbled
  6. 6 to 8 fresh figs, or 1 cup dried, chopped
  7. Black pepper
  8. 1/4 cup chopped almonds, for garnish

1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 9 × 13-inch baking pan with a little olive oil. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. 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 blue cheese, figs, the 2 tablespoons oil, and a splash of the cooking water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, and taste and adjust the seasoning. Turn the pasta mixture into the prepared pan.

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. Garnish with chopped almonds and serve.