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Spaghetti with arugula and cherry tomatoes

(Beatrice Peltre for The Boston Globe)
July 15, 2009

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Serves 4

Most people eat arugula greens (also known as rocket), which have a lemon-pepper flavor, in a salad. But this leafy vegetable is also wonderful in a pesto or to dress up a pizza or pasta. Buy it by the bunch, remove the stems, and thoroughly rinse the leaves, which can be quite sandy, in cool water. To make this pasta, cook spaghetti, and while it bubbles, saute red onion, garlic, and lime rind in olive oil, then add the spaghetti to the pan. Toss with lime juice, a dash of cayenne, chopped basil, and a few cups of arugula. The heat of the spaghetti cooks the vegetable. To serve, add sweet cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta, and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan. The peppery greens, succulent tomatoes, and slightly salty Parmesan and feta transform ordinary spaghetti into a fine summer meal.

Salt, to taste
12 ounces spaghetti
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
Grated rind and juice of 1 lime
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 packed cups arugula
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped basil
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Extra Parmesan (for serving)
Extra feta (for serving)
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until it is tender but still has some bite.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, lime rind, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, 4 minutes, or until onions soften. Add cayenne pepper.

3. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain it and transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss gently. Tip the spaghetti into the skillet. Toss again.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the arugula, lime juice, and salt. Toss gently and cover the pan for a few minutes. The heat of the spaghetti will cook the arugula. Add the tomatoes, basil, feta, and Parmesan. Toss again. Serve with more Parmesan and feta.

Beatrice Peltre