Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

I’ve mentioned my “foodie crush” on Giada di Laurentiis, but I’m also really into Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) these days. She just lives to hostess… It seems like every recipe is about creating fun and good feelings, whether she’s cooking for just her husband or a whole table full of guests. That’s one of the reasons I love to cook so much, so I can really relate to her.

I had a ton of arugula left over after the Rolled Chicken Sandwiches with Arugula and Parsley Aioli, so I decided to give Ina’s Lemon Fusilli with Arugula recipe a try. I wasn’t sure what to make of a lemon cream sauce, but the pasta just looked gorgeous… Thankfully, the results were great!

To make the sauce, I started by heating 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. I added 1 tablespoon of minced garlic (2 cloves) and cooked for 30 seconds. Next, I added 2 cups of half-and-half (the original recipe called for heavy cream, but I just couldn’t do it!), the zest from 2 small lemons, the juice from those 2 lemons, 2 teaspoons of coarse salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. I brought the sauce to a boil, lowered the heat, and let it simmer until it was thickened (20 minutes).

Meanwhile, I cooked the pasta and the broccoli. The original recipe called for separate pots for each, but I didn’t see the sense in dirtying *3 pots* for one recipe. So, I brought a large pot of salted water to a boil, cooked 1 pound of fusilli (rotini) according to package directions, and then added the florets from 1 head of broccoli during the last 4 minutes of the pasta cooking time.

I drained the broccoli and pasta in a colander and returned it to the pot. I immediately poured the lemon cream sauce over the mixture and cooked it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce had been absorbed by the pasta. I poured the pasta mixture into a large bowl and added 5 ounces of arugula (the original recipe called for 8 ounces, but I thought this was plenty), 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and 2 cups of halved grape tomatoes. (I grated the Parmesan and halved the tomatoes while the sauce was simmering and the pasta was cooking.) I cut the last lemon in half lengthwise, sliced it 1/4-inch thick crosswise, and added it to the pasta. I tossed the mixture well and seasoned with salt and pepper to serve.

This was surprisingly good! The lemon cream sauce was light and summery, and it really complemented the sweetness of the tomatoes and the peppery flavor of the arugula. A word of caution, though… This makes a HUGE portion and it doesn’t reheat very well. Next time, I’ll probably just make a half recipe for Dr. O and me.

TIPS: Be sure to use small lemons instead of those jumbo ones you sometimes see at the grocery store. A few reviewers on FoodNetwork.com thought the lemon taste was overwhelming, but I thought it was terrific. Large lemons definitely would have put it over the top, though.

Recipe link: Lemon Fusilli with Arugula

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