Lemon Arugula Pasta Recipe
This lemon arugula pasta recipe is the dish you want to make on a hot summer night when you can barely stand the idea of eating, much less spending hours over a hot stove. I like to make this in the morning before the heat has set in for the day, and I’m always happy I’ve done so when I pull it out of the fridge at lunch or dinner time.
I cannot believe I am posting a pasta recipe on my blog. You see, I overdosed on pasta in my early 20s. As a vegetarian, away at university, it was pretty much all I ate. Fast forward 20 years, and realizing a sensitivity to gluten, and overall feeling better with a low-carb (non-vegetarian) way of eating, pasta doesn’t make it into my meal plans very often.
1. I have barely been able to eat lately, and barely cook, due to the heat, and simple plain recipes are the most appealing to me.
2. My favorite part of this lemon arugula pasta recipe is infusing the lemon flavor directly into the olive oil. It takes about 5 minutes, and the lemon-y yummy-ness it adds to the dish is off the hook. Of course you’re absolutely welcome to juice the lemon and add it at the end too, just be sure to finish off with a generous helping of Parmesan cheese.
3. I added a little twist and threw in some za-atar spice blend. The sumac adds a tangy kick, which is so refreshing.
4. And the best part? Your salad is included right there in the meal–I love arugula, and love its potential spicy-ness tempered by plain pasta with a vibrant lemon-garlic oil.
Sourcing Quality Pasta
When I do eat pasta, I seek out high-quality small batch handmade pasta from producers such as Semolina Artisanal Pasta. It DOES make a difference in flavor, as the pasta from Leah at Semolina Artisanal Pasta actually HAS flavor–no cardboard here, and I love to support a L.A.-based woman-owned business.
Lemon Arugula Pasta Recipe
- 1 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound pasta (I prefer a penne, macaroni, or shell pasta for this recipe)
- 2 cups baby arugula leaves
- 1 teaspoon capers
- 1/2 teaspoon za-atar spice blend (recipe below)
- 3 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese
- Using a peeler, peel off thin strips of skin from the lemon. Apply gentle pressure, trying your best to get mostly the yellow skin, and less of the white pith underneath, which has a more bitter flavor. Peel garlic cloves.
- Put 1/4 cup olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Warm for about 1 minute. Put the lemon peel strips and peeled garlic cloves into the warm oil, it should bubble gently when you add them. If not, wait a minute for the oil to get warmer. Take the pan off the heat and set aside once the lemon peel and garlic is added. Once the oil cools, strain and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a couple generous pinches of salt. Add pasta when it comes to a boil and cook until desired done-ness. Drain.
- In a large bowl, combine 2 Tablespoons of lemon-garlic oil, arugula leaves, and minced capers. Add drained pasta immediately after cooking and toss. Add zaatar spice if using. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. If you wish, you may also add the juice from the lemon. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.
Za-atar Spice Blend
- 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 scant Tablespoon dried oregano (Syrian or Turkish variety if you can find)
- 1 Tablespoon sumac
- 3/4 Tablespoon coarse sea salt
- Toast sesame seeds lightly in a dry skillet over medium heat, until they are fragrant and starting to turn golden. In a bowl, combine the still warm sesame seeds with the other ingredients. Store in a spice jar and use within three months.