Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer Pesto Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula

So last night I was definitely in the mood for comfort food. And for me, comfort food means carbs (anyone else?). Since we've had irregularly warm and sunny weather lately in San Francisco, I was craving an option that was light, easy, but still delicious and filling. This pesto pasta with cherry tomatoes and arugula turned out to be the perfect choice - the arugula adds a crunchy bite and the cherry tomatoes lend a note of sweetness to contrast with the nutty herb and garlic flavor of the pesto. And taking only 15 minutes from start to finish (with pre-prepared pesto), I didn't have to spend all night in the kitchen to enjoy a tasty homemade meal! 

This one is super easy. All you need is some dried pasta (penne is my favorite, always!), cherry tomatoes, pesto (if you'd like to make your own, try out this recipe), arugula (baby preferred) and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Tips for perfect pasta:

  • Generously salt your boiling water for well-seasoned pasta
  • Add a bit of olive oil into the boiling water to keep pasta from sticking together
  • Test pasta a minute before the box says it's done, and remove from heat a tiny bit underdone for perfect al dente pasta
  • Reserve a 1/4 cup of the pasta water in case you need to thin out your sauce
  • After you drain the pasta, return it to the pan (off heat) to mix in the sauce, some of the cheese and the tomatoes. This insures that the pasta is well-coated and everything is incorporated evenly. Then transfer to a serving bowl or individual plates.
  • For pesto pasta, use smaller ridged shapes like penne that absorb sauce well. Fusilli is ideal.

Buon appetito!

Dried penne pasta (a general rule is 100g per person)
Pesto (for homemade, try Ina Garten's recipe here)
1 c. cherry tomatoes
1/4 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
A handful or two of arugula (baby preferred)
Extra parmesan for garnish
  1. Make pasta according to box directions.
  2. After draining, return pasta to the pan (off heat) and add pesto sauce, cherry tomatoes, and the parmesan, stirring to incorporate.
  3. Transfer to serving dish or individual plates/bowls.
  4. Top each serving with a small handful of arugula and garnish with fresh parmesan. Try adding grilled chicken if you need some protein with your meal!

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