I bought these new yellow ballet flats, which make me think of spring. And in cooking, the yellow of lemon and freshness and lightness of their taste in a dish makes me yearn for warmer, sunnier days. So even if spring hasn’t fully arrived here, I can pretend it has with my yellow shoes and my lemon penne with arugula. This was a quick dinner that has a crisp taste and highlights the flavors of all the greens and tomatoes.
I lightened the dish by using low-fat milk instead of the heavy cream. I mixed in a little Wondra (quick dissolving flour) to the butter to thicken the milk since I wasn’t using cream. You don’t get the same creaminess with the milk but it really reduces the amount of fat in the recipe. I also substituted whole-wheat pasta for regular pasta. Give this dish a try, especially if you’ve never had lemon with your pasta. It’s great as a meal onto itself or as a side dish for fish or chicken.
Lemon Penne with Arugula
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 cups of heavy cream (I used milk)
1 bunch of broccoli
1 pound of dried penne or fusili pasta
½ pound baby arugula
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds. Add the cream or milk, the zest from 2 lemons, the juice of 2 lemons, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.
- Meanwhile, cut the broccoli in florets and discard the stem. Cook the florets in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain the broccoli and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package, about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it back into the pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed in the pasta.
- Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, add the arugula, Parmesan, tomatoes, and cooked broccoli. Cut the last lemon in half lengthwise, slice it 1/4-inch thick crosswise, and add it to the pasta. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.