As kids we caused trouble at the table by asking for pasta "plain," with cheese. We love tomato, but we still can't get enough of the salty taste and chewy, buttery texture of pasta 'al dente' served bare. All grown up now (sort of), we've invited preserved lemon, pecorino and arugula to join our childhood favorite.
1 lb pasta (we stayed local to our native California with Semolina Artisanal Pasta's organic penne rigate)
6 cups baby arugula (we like our greens)
1 cup pecorino romano cheese
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 TBS unsalted butter
1 TBS If & When Bay Leaf Black Pepper Preserved Meyer Lemon Paste
1 garlic clove, chopped
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook penne 5-8 minutes, or until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.
While the pasta is cooking, heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. Reduce heat, add preserved lemon paste and stir.
Add half the pasta, half the cooking water and half the cheese and toss until the cheese begins to melt. Repeat.
Remove from heat, add 4 cups of arugula and toss until wilted. Taste. Want more greens? Add remainder. If the dish needs more moisture, add a splash of olive oil. More salt? Add 1 tsp If & When. Add fresh pepper to taste, and lemon zest for color and pucker (if you want color and pucker).
We added fresh peas to the skillet after sauteeing the garlic. If we had any broccoli at home, we would've thrown that in, too. Did we mention we like greens?