Here’s a simple, light pasta dish featuring two sprightly vegetables — asparagus and arugula. Thought this dish says “spring,” you can serve it all year round, since asparagus has become available throughout the seasons. Pasta with asparagus and arugula, embellished with sun-dried tomatoes, comes together in 30 minutes or less, making it an ideal weeknight meal.
Arugula is similar to spinach in the ways it can be used, though its flavor is more assertive. It can be interchanged with spinach in many dishes, like this one, or it can be used to replace part of the amount of spinach called for.
A good-for-you green: Like other dark leafy greens, arugula is a nutrient dense food. It’s packed with vitamins A, C, K, and folate. As far as minerals, it’s particularly rich in calcium and potassium. It’s a good source of fiber and antioxidants. Here’s more about its nutritional profile. Learn more about arugula, and see more tasty recipes in this site’s Guide to Arugula.
Variation: Swap young spinach for the arugula, or use half of each. This is also good with a portion of the tender Asian greens tatsoi or mizuna in place of all or part of the arugula.
Asparagus tips (pardon the pun!): Slender asparagus is often seen in spring, but don’t choose stalk that are too skinny — you’ll just be getting a lot of skin and little flavor. Medium stalks are ideal, as they’re most likely to have that just-right succulence.
Choose bundles of asparagus with firm spears; the tips should be closed, plump and green. Avoid bundles whose ends look withered — a sure sign that they’re past their peak.
Complete the meal: Keep it light and easy with a colorful salad boosted with chickpeas. Or, try Super-Easy Avocado & Bean Salad. Serve the meal with crusty bread if you’d like, or save your appetite for a fruity dessert.
Recipe adapted from Wild About Greens by Nava Atlas. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
- 10 to 12 ounces pasta, your favorite long or short shape
- 10 to 12 ounces asparagus
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more, as desired
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 to 6 ounces fresh arugula leaves, rinsed
- 1/2 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes, oil cured or not, as you prefer
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, or more, to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Vegan parmesan for topping, optional (see Easiest vegan Parmesan in Notes)
- Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente, then drain.
- Meanwhile, trim the woody ends from the asparagus spears and scrape any tough skin with a vegetable peeler. Fresh slender spring asparagus usually needs no scraping. Cut the spears into 1- to 2-inch long pieces and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a small skillet and add the garlic. Sauté over low heat for a minute or two or until golden. Add the asparagus and a small amount of water. Cover and steam until the asparagus is done to your liking but still bright green. Add the arugula, cover, and steam very briefly (less than a minute will do), just until the arugula wilts down slightly.
- Combine the pasta, asparagus and arugula mixture, dried tomatoes, and parsley in a serving bowl and toss well. Drizzle in a little extra olive oil, if you’d like.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve at once, passing around vegan Parmesan if you’d like.
Variation: Swap young spinach for the arugula or use half of each. This is also good with a portion of tatsoi, mizuna, or young dandelion greens in place of part of the arugula.
Easiest vegan Parmesan: Simply combine a more or less equal amount of nutritional yeast and almond flour in a small container. I usually go with 1/2 cup of each. For that amount, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt; add more to your taste. Mix it up well, then cover any unused portion tightly.
See lots more ways to use arugula in this site’s Guide to Arugula
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