For my 25th birthday on Saturday, I decided to let myself live as precariously and recklessly as possible before I had to get all old and mature and sow these wild oats I’ve been harboring.

(Ha. Right.)


To be perfectly honest, it all started Friday night when I essentially ate peanut butter and jelly bars for dinner, along with a side of cake batter.  All while full-on knowing that I was slated to run 10 miles the next morning.

It was a throwback to 2009 when I was training for my first marathon and consumed exactly one ice cream sundae and approximately six cocktails the night before a twenty mile run.

(Sigh.  That was my golden year.)

Nine times out of ten, such audacity will land you at mile 5 with a raging stomachache, thankful that you snuck your debit card into your sports bra for emergency cab riding purposes.  But every so often, the birthday gods will shine upon you and, with the cold wind blowing in your hair, you’ll find yourself back at your apartment after ten miles thinking that you totally could have run three point one more.

It happens.


Then there was my trip to Anthropologie.  If you’ve ever been in that store, you know that entering it with a credit card (let alone two) is about as “living-on-the-wild-side” as you can get.

Especially if you’re a food blogger who wants to fill your life and cupboards with as many colorful and mismatching plates as possible.

It took every ounce of self control I could muster not to hand over my Visa to the cashier and say, “Oh yes. I’ll take one of everything, please.”

(And, if we’re being honest…it may never happen again.)


Follow this up with a successful sushi-eating expedition involving both my parents (who are pretty much convinced that raw fish is as dangerous as a controlled substance), my siblings, and my best friends and a delicious triple layer cake with an ungodly amount of butter in it.  I was coasting on a winning streak thirty miles wide.

Picnik collage

So of course, Sunday came and I had to take a gamble on this pasta.  With it’s kaleidoscopic combination of ingredients and flavors it was pretty much a hit or miss situation.  That I would have had to eat every night for the next six nights for better or worse.

I said a prayer, clicked my heels together three times and dug in.  To delicious.

While the mix of brussels sprouts, dried figs, blue cheese, and pasta may seem strange at first…it actually somehow all just works, with each component playing off the strengths of the others.  A fabulous end to a birthday weekend, if I do say so myself.

For the recipe, head on over to Twenty by Sixty. I made absolutely no changes to it other than to omit the oil.

For more information about The Food Matters Project and to see how you can join in, click here!

I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted by Ruth of Once Upon A Feast.


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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100 Responses to Baked Rigatoni with Brussels Sprouts, Figs and Blue Cheese {The Food Matters Project}

  1. FIgs and blue cheese…. yummy!!!! This sounds excellent and so colorful.

  2. That cheese looks mighty good… Actually, this whole dish does!

    A very happy birthday, darling! So glad you enjoyed it!

  3. sofia says:

    happy belated birthday, joanne! isn’t nice to grow up and learn from our silly pre-long run mistakes? or at least try to? heh heh. it’s a process 🙂 hope your day was fab!

  4. Any chance you are bringing this tonight?? I’m still sad I missed Saturday but can’t wait to celebrate tonight:-)

  5. Lynn says:

    I will definitely make this. Yum. And happy belated birthday – it sounds lovely!

  6. I’m terribly happy I don’t live anywhere close to an Anthropolgie (because my poor credit cards would like it!) Your dish looks lovely as always!

  7. Happy belated birthday, sounds like some very well deserved indulgence.
    Brussel sprouts sounds odd in there but I take your word for it that it has earned its place

  8. Kim says:

    I’m glad you had such a nice 25th birthday! I think the combo of brussels, figs, and blue cheese sounds wonderful on pasta. It’s something I know I’d enjoy and it looks delicious.

  9. london bakes says:

    Oh delicious! What a super combination of flavours and textures. It sounds like you had a very happy birthday weekend too 😀

  10. Epicurea says:

    LOL, happy belated birthday and glad to know i’m not the only one transporting stuff in my sports bra!

  11. Mary says:

    Happy Birthday!!!! It sounds like you had a fabulous weekend. At least the PB&J bars are out of the house now, right? Have a blessed week!

  12. Johanna GGG says:

    happy birthday – glad you celebrated in fine culinary style! I’ve never been to anthropologie but I have ogled them online and wished for a store to browse in – but if they opened in Melbourne it could be dangerous – far more dangerous than raw fish – and every bit as satisfying as your pasta looks

  13. Erndog says:

    Hey,Happy Birthday! T’was mine on Saturday too (just sliiiiightly older then 25) 🙂 Do you tell people your b-day is Christmas in February too? Hope it was a great day for you. ~e

  14. Victoria says:

    This looks so great!! I love this flavor combination but never thought to match it up with pasta. Is that the blue cheese I got you, or were you already on a blue cheese whirlwind without me? lol

  15. Happy birthday joanne! bit late but I hope its still ok to wish u now.

    looks yumm and quick to prepare. thanks for sharing! =)

  16. Pam says:

    It sounds like it was a fab Birthday!! And I love when all sorts of weird ingredients go together perfectly!

  17. Lyndsey says:

    First off Happy Birthday!! Second, a kaleidoscopic combination of ingredients and flavors is a great description, all of which I like. I was wondering how that all went together. I love the almonds in there too. I have roasted brussels sprots with fig balsamic and topped with walnuts and fresh grated parmesan. I never thought to add blue cheese.
    Finally, I can’t wait to see your plate collection! 😉

  18. You are the queen of coming up with novel uses to Brussels sprouts. I love it!

  19. Gloria says:

    Happy belated birthday! and this look awesome!

  20. Happy Birthday again! The dish looks amazing! Funny I never been in an Anthropologie Store. I don’t have one near me. I guess I should head into the city to check it out!!

  21. Rachel says:

    Happy Birthday!
    Anthropologie and sweets are totally legit ways to celebrate, as is any dish including brussels sprouts. Yum!

  22. Jenn says:

    Sounds like a perfect birthday to me! We all need to indulge, especially when we know it can be followed up by something healthy and delicious like this recipe!

  23. Happy birthday girl!!

    I’ve had a similar combination on pizza and I can imagine how great it will taste with pasta too.

    Oh and I can totally relate with the Anthropologie obsession. I live a few blocks within an Anthro with 5 floors (yup, 5!) and it’s so hard not to just hand over my credit card and go crazy!

  24. Amy says:

    It’s gorgeous. Last week I pinned a fig and blue cheese sandwich that I’ve been daydreaming about ever since, so I think this is a sign I need those ingredients in my life asap. As for Anthropologie, I haven’t ever been. But if it’s anything like Crate and Barrel, I cannot be trusted.

  25. Amy says:

    Oh, and happy late birthday my love!! I don’t remember it being in February. And 25? You’re an old soul. I’m just old.

  26. Claudia says:

    I think that has everything edible in the world in it – I want to dance on the wild side. I want to take a chance on this. Happy Birthday! I really didn’t feel I had to grow up until – about forty.

  27. Jenna says:

    Happy birthday! Anthropologie, sushi and this pasta dish seem like a fab way to celebrate!

  28. Bo says:

    Happy birthday…your pasta sounds wonderful.

  29. Ranjani says:

    This dish looks and sounds amazing! Can’t go wrong with figs and blue cheese. And happy birthday!!

  30. RJ says:

    happy birthday! glad it was a good day 🙂

  31. tigerfish says:

    Figs and Brussel Sprouts sound so good together! Happy Birthday, belated it might be.

  32. Camila Faria says:

    You had me at ‘rigatoni’. Beautiful recipe. Happy birthday Joanne!!!

  33. Shawnda says:

    The flavors in that bowl look out of this world! And happy, happy birthday to you!

  34. Beth says:

    Peanut butter gives the protein, jam gives the fruit, and as long as there’s butter and flour in those squares (dairy and bread), I’m thinking you’ve got a perfectly balanced meal.

    Also, given that I love all of those rigatoni ingredients on their own, I have to give the recipe a try!

  35. Margarita says:

    I absolutely love the big chunks of figs. Yum!

  36. Christine says:

    Happy, happy Birthday!!! Love how you spent it and congrats on your run! I can’t even look at the Anthropologie catalog much less set foot in the store. Just toooooo dangerous. Hope you had fun though!!

  37. i am just drooling over here. I want this- no- I NEED this for dinner tonight

  38. Suzi says:

    Joanne, this looks really tasty and heathy, I could go for some now. Going over to check out the food matters site, that sounds really cool. Have a great day and thanks.

  39. Happy Birthday! The pasta looks so good, I love the combination of figs and blue cheese, great flavors. Ah Anthropologie, I love their housewares!

  40. Dining Alone says:

    Happy Birthday! the pasta looks tasty and lots of good flavors that I love. I really need to check out Anthropology!

  41. Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I love the idea of figs in the pasta. It’s such a colorful dish. We’re going to start Meatless Mondays at our house and I’ll be getting all my recipes from you know who!!

  42. Happy Birthday! These pictures are beautiful- I want to dig in!

  43. Elizabeth says:

    That sounds like a stellar bday. And this dish is gorgeous

  44. Anonymous says:

    Happy belated birthday! You have the same dob as my mum:) best wishes

  45. Shannon says:

    oh, i can TOTALLY see how this works!!! glad you had a fabulous run (must’ve been fueled well by the mix of simple (sugar) and complex (peanuts) foods? and score on the fabulous dinner 🙂

  46. Cara says:

    Very interesting combination indeed, but then again, we both tend to like weird things 😉 And you’ve reminded me, I absolutely need a trip to anthropologie!

  47. Mary says:

    Happy belated birthday!!! Your years become you. Your rigatoni looks wonderful and I know it was delicious. Everything you make is. Have a great evening. Blessings…Mary

  48. OohLookBel says:

    This looks wonderful, love the colours. Glad you enjoyed your birthday, and your musings are always… amusing!

  49. Wow, this recipe looks wonderful! I like the combination of Brussels sprouts, figs, and cheese. Looks delicious with pasta.

  50. This is so yummy sounding! I love this idea!

  51. Laura says:

    Happy Birthday! Treat yourself to one of your amazing desserts. This recipe looks so scrumptious.

  52. Megan says:

    Happy Birthday!!

    This pasta dish sounds amazing. I feel like I’m always trying to eat as many brussels sprouts as I can get my hands on at this time of year.

  53. Donna says:

    This is your genius – making the most “healthy” dishes look and taste like a celebration! Cheers!

  54. Ana says:

    Looks delish, and the pic are so vibrant! Beautiful!

  55. Julie says:

    Happy Birthday! This looks delicious.

  56. Looks like a delicious pasta dish! Great pictures, and Happy Birthday! Good luck you your half marathon!

  57. Lexi says:

    Hi Joanne, Wasn’t this delicious? I love the look of the figs in there. I think I’ll make it that way when figs are in season. Happy Birthday!

  58. Candace says:

    Happy, Happy Birthday to you! I love the sweet, savory, tangy combination of the figs, sprouts and blue cheese. It looks amazing!

  59. Casey says:

    This was my first week with the group and this was an unusual recipe to start with. If I had not cooked with Bittman before, I would have thought of him as ultra creative. It worked though. I could not get the brussels sprouts. Can you imagine?

  60. happy birthday! this sounds fabulous 🙂

  61. sophia says:

    AAAH!! Happy birthday, my dear friend Joanne!!!!! I really hope to see you when I come visit NYC in early March.

    I ate a dish that had similar ingredients as this! But instead of figs, it was dates and the cheese was stuffed into the dates. It was sooo delish and I envision this being even more wonderful!

  62. Sara says:

    Happy birthday! This looks wonderful – very unique with lovely flavors! 🙂

  63. Happy birthday! and I love seeing the browned bits of the baked pasta!

  64. Monet says:

    Happy belated birthday, my sweet friend! Wow! This looks so tempting. I wish I could have celebrated with you and make you a lovely cake. Alas, I will have to make this bowl of pasta in your honor. Thank you for sharing, sweet girl. I hope you have a blessed week.

  65. Katie says:

    Happy birthday to you! I think anything you put brussels sprouts in I’m totally drawn to. And blue cheese as well? I’m hungry now!

  66. Emily says:

    Happy belated birthday!! Yaaay! You’re 25! And you’re awesome.

    Six cocktails?! I don’t know how you did it.

    This rigatoni dish looks awesome. Love the figs and blue cheese.

  67. kyleen says:

    Happy belated birthday! I actually just turned seventeen a couple days ago, so we’re almost birthday buddies (: I love Anthropoligie! It’s so hard to go in there and not buy everything. This pasta looks delicious! Everything you make looks delicious, actually.

  68. That Girl says:

    Sounds like a pretty good birthday all around!

  69. Katerina says:

    A Very Happy Birthday dear Joanne! May your life be full of happiness, love and little bit of lack (necessary too!). The pasta as always healthy and delicious with the figs and the blue cheese! My husband would very much appreciate it!

  70. Hotly Spiced says:

    Happy 25th. And that’s a very beautiful looking rigatoni. I would love a bowl of that!

  71. vianney says:

    Happy 25th!!! Sounds like a wonderfully tasty bday!! great dish!!

  72. Kristen says:

    So glad you had such a wonderful birthday celebration!!! You deserve it 🙂 Good thing your parents don’t like here in Okinawa with me….we eat sushi like it’s our job 🙂 Don’t tell them that they serve raw horse meat at some places here! Eek! I was cracking up about your “carb-loading” before your 20 mile run. When I trained for my marathon I thought, “I can eat whatever I want because I’m training for a marathon”….HA…learned that lesson really fast!!

  73. sally says:

    Happy belated birthday, Joanne! I’m glad to hear that you bought yourself some b-day presents at Anthropologie. Every time I go in there I tell myself that I am only going to look, but there are so many tempting things that I find it hard to hold back.

  74. Gambling… that’s just the way I felt about this dish before I tried it, and I was gambling against the odds that I would like it. I lost that bet.

  75. Pam says:

    What a unique combination of pasta… I bet it was delicious! I hope you had a fun filled birthday and felt spoiled by everyone you love.

  76. Catherine says:

    Dear Joanne, The figs and blue cheese just tug at my heart. A delicious recipe. Blessings my dear, Catherine xo

  77. Happy Birthday again 🙂 Oh, and Anthropologie…aside from foodie shops, this is the most dangerous place I can be 🙂
    This dish however, screams pure comfort food deliciousness in my book!

  78. Happy belated birthday, Joanne! I think this recipe looks absolutely delicious (although, I could very easily eat cake batter for dinner if you had presented that recipe instead haha).

  79. Happy birthdaaaaaaaaaaay! 🙂 While this pasta looks good and I love baked pasta, I have yet to get on board the blue cheese train. And figs still scare me.

  80. Happy Birthday, Joanne! This pasta sounds AMAZING. It has all of my fiance’s favorite ingredients.

  81. Nicole says:

    I absolutely love everything in this dish! Brussels sprouts and blue cheese together are SO good. Then add the pasta and the figs, and this sounds over-the-top amazing!

    I hope you had a wonderful birthday 🙂

  82. This dish looks amazingly delish! I love rigatoni! 🙂

    Happy B-Day! 🙂

  83. Ruth Daniels says:

    AAACCCKKK how could I have missed your birthday – hope the sweetness lasts the year! And thanks for sharing the pasta (gorgeous photos by the way) with Presto Pasta Nights. We’re five years old this week so I’m glad you got to share birthdays with us.

  84. Reeni says:

    Sometimes the strangest things are the best! I need to use figs in more savory ways! This rocks! I love the sweet and savoriness of it.

  85. Happy belated birthday! I wouldn’t have thought to pair those ingredients together but when I see them now, it all makes sense.. I’ve never actually tried figs for some reason, especially not in a pasta, but I keep meaning to try them. It’s nice to see them in a savory recipe like this, I think I’d really like them this way!

  86. A very happy belated birthday….. I did wish you on FB too my friend.
    You know when I read your posts n recipes I always say WOW What an Incredibly Talented Young Woman She is… And I mean it everytime I say it.
    The recipe looks absolutely fantastic, Hope you have a beautiful year my dear.

  87. Kalyn says:

    This looks like a wonderful birthday. (And you are mature beyond your years, no doubt about that!)

  88. Roasted brussel sprouts are amazing and the mustard here sounds delicious. Good look.

  89. I love this dish! Hope you had the most wonderful birthday!

  90. Happy belated birthday. Nothing about the pasta combination seems weird. We probably wouldn’t think of it, but when you see it, it makes sense. Especially the figs and blue cheese. That’s a great dinner.

  91. Chris says:

    Happy belated birthday! May your winning streak continue throughout the year.

  92. I love how full of good things this pasta is. So interesting and colorful! 😉

  93. Happy belated birthday Jo!
    I love the housewares at Anthropologie too, hard to leave without a purchase.

    I am strangely craving this combination at 9 pm at night in front of the REAL HOUSEWIVES! Bookmarking it. xo

  94. Kevin says:

    What a great way to enjoy some brussels sprouts; the flavours in hear sound amazing! I hope that you had a great birthday!

  95. Deborah says:

    It sounds like the perfect birthday!!!

  96. Caity Craft says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  97. Joanne says:

    Caity – I didn’t realize that! The recipe can also be found here –

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