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Farfalle with Arugula Pesto and Tomatoes (Farfalle con Pesto di Arugula)

Farfalle with Arugula Pesto and Tomatoes (Farfalle con Pesto di Arugula)
At the entrance to the food market in Lecce, an elderly man in a dusty suit was selling small bouquets of greens. On closer inspection, they proved to be wild arugula. The spicy, nutty green grows throughout much of southern Italy, but it seems to taste best in Apulia. Foragers gather it for using both uncooked in salads and cooked as a vegetable or in pasta sauce. Next door, in Campania, cooks sometimes add raw arugula to the classic Capri salad of tomatoes and mozzarella.

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. arugula, tough stems removed (about 4
      cups)
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese, plus
      shaved cheese for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. farfalle
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved, or chopped
      large tomatoes

Directions:

In a food processor, combine the arugula, parsley, walnuts and garlic. Process using short rapid on-off pulses until the mixture is finely chopped, 15 to 20 times. Add the grated cheese, salt and pepper. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil in a steady stream and process until smooth. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Salt generously and add the pasta. Cook, stirring frequently, until al dente (tender but firm to the bite). Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Place the pasta in a large warmed serving bowl along with the pesto. Toss well, adding the reserved pasta water as needed to thin the sauce. Add the tomatoes and toss again. Garnish with the cheese shavings and serve immediately.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Italy, by Michele Scicolone (Time-Life Books, 1999).