I don’t know about other climates, but peppery arugula grows like a weed in Northern Utah. Once the weather turns hot, it goes to seed so fast it’s hard to keep up.
I love arugula raw, in salads. But as arugula matures, so does its bite. When I buy a bunch of larger leaves (or the leaves in my garden mature) I like to mellow the bite a bit by cooking them. Cooking arugula is also a great way to utilize the leaves you picked or bought a week ago. They still have plenty of flavor, but the texture of these delicate leaves suffer a bit if they’re not used right away.
Today’s Meatless Monday recipe could hardly be any easier. Looking for a way to use some perfectly good—but not quite in its prime—arugula, I thought about how I might combine the leaves with some fresh, local pasta I’d purchased at the Farmers Market.
I didn’t cook the arugula, however. Instead, I just combined them with the warm pasta and then poured the warm garlic oil into the pasta and mixed it up. The warmth of the pasta and oil cooked the arugula sufficiently without rendering it soggy and limp.
If you are gluten intolerant, take heart that gluten-free pastas are getting better all the time. Here’s a site that rates the options.
The recipe that follows is totally made up. I wanted to keep it simple, so I didn’t add a lot of ingredients. Toasted pine nuts are just one ingredient I didn’t have on hand at the time that I think would be good. Feel free to play around with this and come up with your own combinations.
Pasta with Arugula and Garlic
- 10 ounces fresh pasta (I used fettucine, but you can use whatever shape suits your fancy)
- 6-8 ounces fresh arugula, stems removed
- 6 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup olive oil for sautéeing, plus a little more for drizzling over the finished product
- grated Parmesan or some other hard cheese (I used Midnight Moon goat gouda.)
- Heat water for pasta and cook according to package directions. Fresh pasta will take only a few minutes to cook compared with dried pasta, which usually takes 8 to 12 minutes.
- Sauté sliced garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil until the garlic is slightly browned.
- Drain pasta in a colander. Do not rinse with cold water.
- Combine pasta with garlic and oil and raw arugula in a large bowl. The heat of the pasta and oil will slightly cook the arugula.
- Serve in pasta bowls and sprinkle with cheese if desired. Drizzle with a little more olive oil.
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