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Pasta with Arugula Puree and Cherry Tomato Sauce

April 16, 2012

This summery pasta dish from Gourmet Today is super fast and easy, not to mention healthy! It only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish (as long as you remember to start the pasta water boiling before you start cooking the tomatoes); perfect for a weeknight. On its own, it makes a great vegetarian main dish, but it would also be tasty served alongside grilled chicken thighs and a light salad.

The recipe calls for fettuccine, but I used riccioli and it was amazing – I’m very pleased with the artisan pastas that Wegmans started marketing last year under their Italian Classics line (about three times(!) more expensive than their regular pasta, but totally worth it for a recipe like this where the texture can make or break the dish). I’ve also been looking for a good excuse to try some of the artisanal pasta sold at the public market and this recipe would be perfect.

I can’t wait to make this again, next time with locally grown cherry tomatoes from Porter Farms and arugula from our garden. The peppery-ness of the arugula is perfectly complemented by the sweetness of the tomatoes, and the pecorino Romano cheese adds just the right about of richness. Perfect for those seeking a unique variation on traditional pesto!

Arugula pesto

Serves 8 as a first course, 4 as a main course

Ingredients

For arugula puree:

  • 2  tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 5  ounces baby arugula, coarsely chopped (about 7 cups)
  • 1/2  cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4  cup finely grated pecorino Romano
  • 1  teaspoon salt

For cherry tomato sauce:

  • 3  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2  garlic cloves, crushed with side of a large heavy knife
  • 1 1/2  pounds cherry tomatoes
  • Salt

For pasta:

  • 1  pound dried fettuccine

Directions

  1. Make the puree: Pulse pine nuts in a food processor until finely ground; be careful not to grind to a paste. Add arugula, oil, cheese, and salt and pulse until almost smooth.
  2. Make the tomato sauce: Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Discard garlic. Add tomatoes and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are collapsed but not falling apart, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta: Cook pasta is an 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and return ti pot.
  4. Add arugula puree to pasta and toss until well coated. Transfer to a platter and top with tomato sauce. Serve with grated cheese.

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