Monday, May 14, 2012

Penne with Tomato Sauce, Arugula and Parmesan

My kids love pasta. Red sauce, green sauce, no sauce - doesn't matter. Linguine, shells, spaghetti, penne or farfalle - you name it, they'll eat it. Thankfully, I have this recipe in my back pocket for those days when I'm running late and need to put together dinner in a snap. It's tasty, kid-approved and doesn't get much simpler than this.

Penne with Tomato Sauce, Arugula and Parmesan
Serves 4

1 lb. penne pasta
Kosher salt

3 tbsp. canola oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
Sugar, if needed
1/4-1/3 tsp. red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
4 ounces baby arugula
Fresh basil leaves, torn
1 cup freshly grated parmigiana cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta: 
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Stir in the pasta, cover the pot and bring to a boil. Cook until just slightly under al dente (it will continue cooking in the sauce about, 8 minutes). Remove 1 cup of the pasta water and reserve. Drain the pasta well.

To make the sauce:
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large high sided saute pan. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and half of the reserved juice and bring to a simmer, cook for 15 minutes and then gently crush the tomatoes with a potato masher until slightly smooth. Taste for seasoning and add sugar if needed. Add the chili flakes and continue cooking until thicken, about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to coat evenly. Stir in some of the reserved pasta water, if needed and add 1/2 cup of the cheese. Stir in the arugula and herbs. Transfer to a platter and serve with the remaining cheese on the side.

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