The arugula piles up sometimes, doesn’t it? (Especially now that we’re getting into lettuce-growing season.) Even if you don’t have a lettuce garden, I bet you’ve stared down a half-full container of baby greens and wondered what to do with it. Salads are great, but no dish can tickle your gastronomic fancy 100% of the time, and you know those delicate leaves won’t last too much longer. Argh! Time is running out!
Luckily, though, salad greens can be treated like hearty greens and included in everything from stir-frys to pasta dinners to soups. Greens are greens, after all, and the biggest difference between curly spinach (we automatically think “savory & hot” dishes) and arugula (“savory & cold“) is the thickness of the individual leaf. That means all you have to do to use salad greens the way you’d use “savory & hot” greens is lessen the cooking time: rather than sautéeing the greens for a few minutes, just toss them into the meal at the very end, after you’ve taken the pot off the stove and before you dish out the servings. The residual heat will nicely wilt the greens, softening both their texture and their flavor. You’ll never have to waste your arugula again!
Wilted Lettuce & Pasta
This recipe is so simple that you can base the ingredient amounts/proportions on your taste buds: if you really like tomatoes, use 2 medium tomatoes or 1 large tomato per person; if you’re a garlic nut, assume at least 2 cloves per person. If your arugula is really getting out of hand, chop up the lot of it and have a very green pasta dish. And of course you can add other veggies at will, or sautée some chicken to go along with the pasta.
Whole-grain pasta of your choice
Slivers of sautéed or roasted garlic (I used roasted garlic chips from Trader Joe’s)
Extra-virgin olive oil
A flavorful, dry cheese like Parmesan or Dutch Parrano (optional)
Sea salt & freshly-ground pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions. As soon as you’ve drained it and while it’s still steaming hot, toss in the lettuce, continually folding the pasta up and around the lettuce to allow the heat to wilt the leaves. Stir in tomatoes, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper. Stir in or top with cheese and serve immediately.
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