I love pasta. There, I admitted it. Just thinking about a bowl of al dente penne with meatballs and a tomato basil sauce is making my mouth water. The thing is, my wife – the more health conscious one – knows that if I make pasta and red sauce I’ll end up eating half a pound of pasta on my own. Sure, I know it’s not the best thing for me, but the thought of that full-belly feeling following of plate of gluten-filled goodness is second only to enjoying a thick, rare steak covered in Alaskan Dungeness. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, it’s probably behind a lot of other things, but I think you get my point.
Given my wife’s aversion to watching me shovel down food, when the fat kid in me wants pasta, the adult in me needs to strike a compromise. So, rather than cooking up a batch of good-old red sauce, we turn pasta dishes into exercises in topping-exploration.
The following, which is based on a recipe from one of the Martha Stewart “Everyday Food” cookbooks, is a healthier way to approach a pasta dish, and turned out to be absolutely delicious. I – of course – added the chicken sausage, as I – as I believe that the purportedly omnivorous Bigfoot would – rarely enjoy a meal without animal protein.
Lemony Pasta Ingredients:
- 12 oz. Pasta
- 1 lemon – zested and juiced
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 cups baby arugula
- Salt and pepper to taste
First, a note on the olive-oil: While regular EVOO would do very nicely, I used Olio Dorato by Sotto Voce, a “golden garlic olive oil” infused with “dried lemons, sun-dried tomatoes, cinnamon sticks & mulling spices”. My wife and I picked this oil up at Pike Place Market a while ago, and have been experimenting with it in our cooking ever since. It’s a little expensive, but it punched this meal up nicely!
This dish is VERY simple.
Cook up the pasta according to the package directions. Something like a fusilli would work best for this, as it would allow the wilted greens to get wrapped up in the coils. You could also use a whole-grain pasta (which usually comes in a handy 12-oz package) to make it a smidge healthier.
As the pasta is cooking, mix the arugula, lemon zest and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl.
Drain the pasta, and without rinsing it (it needs to stay hot), combine it with the arugula mix, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch each of salt and pepper, and the parmesan. The hot pasta will wilt the arugula, and the cheese will melt into the concoction. Make sure to coat the pasta by mixing well.
I was thinking of peeling the sausage, frying it up, and adding the crumbles to the mix, but I wanted to see what the pasta would be like without the addition, and I was not disappointed. The lemon was strong but not overwhelming, and was balanced nicely by the hint of pepper, the bitterness of the arugula, and the salty goodness of the melted parmesan.
I cooked up the sausages – which were Isernio’s Hot Italian chicken sausages – separately according to the package directions, and served them on the side. I cooked the sausages with the Olio Dorato as well, which lent a pleasing similarity between the pasta and the protein.