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Penne with Ricotta, Arugula, and Basil

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Serves four to six.

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 105

Parmigiano-Reggiano, ricotta, and lemon zest form the base for a creamy, no-cook pasta sauce that comes together in minutes.

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. dried penne pasta
  • 8 oz. whole-milk ricotta (about 1 cup)
  • 1 oz. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1 cup); more for serving
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. lightly packed finely grated lemon zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 oz. baby arugula (about 6 loosely packed cups), coarsely chopped
  • 1-1/2 oz. fresh basil (about 2 loosely packed cups), coarsely chopped

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta in the water until al dente, about 11 minutes. Reserve about 1/3 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmigiano, 1 Tbs. of the oil, the zest, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 3/4 tsp. pepper.

Heat the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the arugula and basil and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, tossing with tongs, until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer the arugula mixture to the bowl with the ricotta and mix well.

Add the hot pasta to the ricotta mixture and toss to coat. Add the reserved cooking liquid as needed to moisten the pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, passing more Parmigiano at the table.

Serving Suggestions

Start the meal with a Basic Bruschetta.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 430; Fat (g): fat g 13; Fat Calories (kcal): 120; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 5; Protein (g): protein g 18; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 5; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 59; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 500; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 25; Fiber (g): fiber g 4;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I did not like this recipe at all. I tried to follow it exactly, only omitting to coarsely chop the arugula and basil. To me, the flavors did not mesh well together. The arugula flavor was too strong - i don't know if it was baby arugula or not. It was from a fresh bag of Trader Joes organic arugula. You could taste the basil and lemon zest, but they did not complement the arugula.

Loved it - quick, easy and delicious! Perfect for summer.

When I mixed the hot arugula and basil with the ricotta and parmesan the parmesan clumped it all together and no matter how much I stirred I couldn't separate this massive clump of cheese and herbs. Very frustrating indeed.

I substitued baby washed spinach leaves and tossed them in the hot pasta to wilt. I grow lemon basil and chopped that as the basil 'add' and toasted 1/3 cup of pine nuts to garnish. Served it with grilled garlic & lime shrimp. It was easy!

This was very tasty and easy enough for a weeknight dinner. I'm not sure I'd bother to wilt the arugula and basil in the oil next time and rather might just toss it with the hot pasta to get a tiny bit of wilting but leave more structure in place.

Easy and absolutely delicious!

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