Friday, March 06, 2009

Pasta con Rucola

Yes, I think I did get a little carried away with the rucola, but hey, green is good, no? Perhaps I was just in need of a good green fix. This time of year when the thrill of root vegetables and cabbage has faded slightly, there's nothing like vibrant green rucola to add some zippity do da to your lunch. I was a bit surprised the first time I was served this pasta. I had no idea that Italians were so fond of Rucola/arugula/rocket, or what ever you call it in your part of the world. It was a revelation to find it on pizza and then pasta, but I have adapted and found it to be one of my favorites. Why not put a little salad on the top of my pasta. This is a pretty simple recipe that lends itself to all sorts of additions. I had a small corner of prosciutto crudo that I chopped up into batons and slightly sauteed, that made for a nice addition too. It's a good way to use up a few odds and ends in the refrigerator like cheese, or maybe sauteed zucchini and others that might be kicking around begging to be used.
The basic premise is to make a thin cheese sauce preferably with cheese that has some character to it, toss in your favorite pasta after you've cooked it and top it all off with fresh rucola. Garnish the dish with a drizzle of fruity olive oil a pinch of salt and pepper and you have a one plate wonder for lunch or a light supper. Balsamic vinegar is optional for a more salad like appeal. The zesty fresh greens balance well with the pasta, cutting through the cheese for an nice contrast of fresh with cooked and cheesy with a slight bite. Try it if you haven't already, I think you'll like it.
I'm sending this over to Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita and Marie of Proud Italian Cook for their second Festa Italiana 2009. Head on over and have a nosey round their table for this years edition. You'll find a link to last years event also. Lots of great recipes, ideas and blogs to discover.

Pasta con Rucola
Serves 4
  • 400 g (14oz) dried pasta, penne mezze or whatever suits you
  • Rucola, 4 handfuls, more or less
  • olive oil
  • Parmigiano 50 g approximately some for the sauce some for garnish on top
  • 50g (1.5 oz)prosciutto crudo or spek, cut into batons, and slightly sauteed, optional, or sauteed zucchini instead or not at all
Besciamella Sauce
  • 50 g (2 oz) butter (I use olive oil instead)
  • 1 Tb flour
  • 220 ml (8 oz) Milk
  • 200 g (8 0z)cheese, shredded Toma (cheddar, provolone or what ever suits you)
  • nutmeg, a few fresh grates or 1/4 tsp or less of dried
Make your besciamella sauce by melting your butter in a sauce pan.
Sprinkle your flour on top, whisk till smooth and cook till bubbly.
Whisk in the milk and let simmer til it thickens slightly.
Add shredded cheese. You might want to add some parmigiano also
Add your nutmeg.
Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
Cook until the cheese is melted over a low heat. Set aside.

Saute prosciutto crudo if desired.

Cook pasta in salted water till al dente.

Toss the pasta together with the cheese sauce and prosciutto.
Serve in individual plates.
Garnish with a handful of rucola on top.
Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano
A pinch of salt and pepper
Drizzle with olive oil and eat while warm.

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