Monday, February 27, 2012

Penne with Brussels Sprouts, Pear and Fontina Cheese

Happy Monday!  I am so excited to tell you all I have joined the "Food Matters Project".  The Food Matters Project was created by Sarah of 20 Something Cupcakes and Kate of Cookie and Kate and is based off of Mark Bittman’s the Food Matters Cookbook.  If you're not familiar, Mark Bittman is a popular and well respected food journalist, and the author of the New York Times column called The Minimalist.  He also regularly appears on my favorite morning show, the Today Show!   His philosophy is simple - eat more plants and eat less animal products and processed foods.  He believes (and so do I) that this food philosophy will positively impact our health and the environment.

“If you swap the basic proportions in your diet—increasing unprocessed fruits, vegetables, legumes, nut, and whole grains—you’ll wind up losing weight and improving your overall health while also improving more difficult-to-measure situations like global warming, the environment in general, and animal welfare.” ~Mark Bittman, The Food Matters Cookbook

Don't get me wrong, I love a bloody piece of filet, and I obviously have a pretty serious relationship with cheese, but I think it makes a lot of sense to go easy on those types of foods, not eliminate them, but just make fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains the star of our meals.  Healthy with an occasional splurge.... it a lifestyle that really works.  Recently I have been eating pretty clean, and therefore not creating the most interesting food blog worthy recipes.  Who wants to read about sauteed kale?  Millet anyone?  But when I decided to join the Food Matters Project, I thought it would be a great way to try out new healthy recipes.

Each week on Mondays, a different member of the Food Matters Project will choose a recipe from the cookbook for the rest of the members to try out and post about.  This first week's choice was made by Marcia at Twenty by Sixty and that choice being Bittman's Baked Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Figs and Blue Cheese.  Members will also try out the dish, putting their own spin on it.  I decided to swap out pears for figs, and fontina cheese for the blue.  This dish is unusual, and I wasn't sure how it would turn out.  However, if you love brussels sprouts, you will love this!  (Dad, I'm thinking of you!)  The ingredients somehow all come together and work.  For more takes on this recipe, check out the comments here.


2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8 oz whole wheat penne
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, roughly chopped 
4 oz Fontina cheese, diced or crumbled
2 ripe pears, chopped
Black pepper
Sea Salt 
1/4 cup chopped almonds, for garnish 

An unusual assortment, right?

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add pasta and cook for about 3 minutes.  Add chopped brussels sprouts to water and cook for another 3 minutes.  Drain and return brussels sprouts and pasta to the pot.  Add pears and fontina cheese, add olive oil and give it a quick stir.  Transfer the ingredients in the pot of a baking dish.  Top with almonds and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Enjoy!