My apologies—I’m late on The Food Matters Project this week. But I had an important announcement to make. Since then, the cupcakes have been eaten. And the excitement has turned into fears. Fears of renting our place out. Fears of finding a job. Fears of failing. Fears of landing a good place to live. A place with a gas stove. With laundry. With character. And lots of light. The details are weighing on us. And trusting is hard. Trusting that we’re headed exactly where we’re supposed to go. But I’ll try. And I’ll try again tomorrow. And the next day. I think it’s the only option.
Food Journey Part 3: Weight Watchers. Overeating was the name of my game. In high school my mom joined Weight Watchers and lost a good deal of weight. I decided to play along too. 21 points a day. I learned quickly that I was—you guessed it—overeating. Those points didn’t make it much past lunch. Eventually I got the hang of it. Instead of eating the whole bowl of chips, I was only allowed 12 when we’d go out for mexican. [I should really think about implementing this rule again.] I broke the chips into tiny little pieces to hold me over until the fajitas. I’d often times eat salads for lunch and save my points for Frappuccinos. Peppermint Mocha Fraps were my drink of choice back when it was only a Christmastime drink. I was losing weight. But I wasn’t eating well. Frappuccinos and iceberg lettuce?! Oh my poor body. But I did learn portion control. It was a start.
Pasta, cheese, brussel sprouts, figs, plus a sprinkle of almonds. That’s it. Simple. Simple to make. Simple to taste. But when combined sings a beautiful harmony.
To be honest—I doubted. I almost added globs of spices and a splash of half and half. But I restrained and followed the recipe. To see what the other FMP peeps made, head over here. And here I am once again, singing Mark Bittman’s praises. Fa la la la la.
Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or individual ramekins, with olive oil. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt liberally. Add pasta and cook it halfway through (start checking after 3 minutes; it should still be quite firm inside). Add brussels sprouts to the pot and continue to cook until 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 fontina, figs, 2 tablespoons oil, and a splash of the cooking water. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Toss and taste. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the pasta mixture into the prepared pan.
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.
Recipe from Mark Bittman’s book, The Food Matters Cookbook.
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PS—I was somehow nominated for Best Food Photography on a Blog at The Kitchn. Not sure how. But I’ll take any votes! You must login to vote. And you can vote for multiple people. The talent is crazy good. I might just go down the list and vote for everyone.
Just saw your name on the list for the Best Food Photography. Best of luck. You are very talented.
I adore Brussels sprouts and figs, but have never tried them together. This is on my Must-try list for next week. Thanks!
Congrats on the nomination!
I never would have though to pair these ingredients together. Sounds fun and super tasty!
I am on the Weight Watchers bandwagon and finding it really tough right now. Whew. But I will persevere. (171 days til my wedding.) I like your chip idea. Good call on the tiny pieces.
And brussel sprout bake – brilliant. They are such a highly underrated and undervalued veggie. Mini cabbages, how can you lose?!
Goodness.. this looks so delicious! Congrats on the nomination! -beth
Looks so very yummy.
Congratulations on your nomination – well deserved! Will make sure to vote 🙂
I just voted for you! I stumbled across your blog a few days ago. Your photographs and recipes are stunning.
This looks amazing, Melissa. Love this combination!
I want this! Love the combinations in this pasta — looks and sounds amazing.
I absolutely know why you were voted into the best photography competition, and I’ll absolutely vote for you.
I know it’s easy to stress about the details, but try to focus on what an exciting opportunity this is. The details always work themselves out on their own.
I am so all over this it even frightens myself.
Love your writing, recipes, and photography. It all adds up to a great blog.
I seriously doubted too. It was hard not to add…something. How could so few ingredients yield any good flavor? I’m going to learn so much from this project. Sometimes less is actually more. Best of luck in the voting, so glad to see you among so many other talented folks!
Mmm such a yummy sounding dish!
Congratulations on your nomination, heading over to vote now! This looks like such an amazing pasta dish, I love all the combination of flavours and textures.
Congrats on the photography! Well deserved!!!