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.

The food journey continues on.

Food Journey Part 1: Food Matters.

Food Journey Part 2: Overeating.

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.

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Rigatoni Brussel Sprout Bake + Figs

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  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
  • sea salt
  • 8 oz. whole wheat rigatoni
  • 1 1/2 lb. brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
  • 4 oz. fontina cheese
  • 6 to 8 fresh figs, or 1 c. dried, chopped
  • coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 c. almonds, chopped, for garnish


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  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.


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.

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