Pesto Linguine with White Bean and Arugula Salad

It’s the day after Christmas, which mostly signals that I have survived yet another holiday season.  Of course it also signals that for the last few weeks I’ve had too little sleep, too much food and too much to drink.  Time to correct all that – starting with dinner.  After deconstructing the Christmas decor and returning it to storage I’m way too tired to tackle much cooking or cleaning.  And I haven’t been here for a few days so I’m working with whatever is readily available.  My first thought was Chinese take out, but I’m too tired to pick it up. 

A quick look in the freezer revealed a bag of pesto cubes from a very productive day in August.  A quick look in the fridge revealed a bag of arugula from a very productive visit to a friend’s house, a lemon and some goat cheese.  One more quick look, this time in the cabinet, revealed a can of cannellini beans and some linguine.  Pasta and salad dinner in the making.  Not much in the way a recipes tonight, but a few tips.  First, the arugula was a little dry.  I decided to heat the white beans in a little stock and lemon juice and use the bean mixture to wilt to arugula a little.  The bitter of the arugula is perfect with the bright creaminess of the lemony white beans.  The goat cheese adds just a hint of tanginess.  A very good salad.  Now for the pesto.  Remember it was frozen.  Be careful thawing it in the microwave.  It will separate, burn and dry out unbelievable quickly.  You’re better off to put it in a bowl and add some hot stock or some of the pasta water.  Just keep stirring until you have a nice sauce consistency.  Add a little more pasta water if need be.  Finally for the pasta.  For ages I have cooked the pasta, drained it and added a touch of olive oil to the pot to keep the pasta from sticking together.  Yesterday I read a tip that said to never do that.  If you coat the pasta in olive oil the sauce won’t stick to it.  Lightbulb!  Makes perfect sense, right?  Can’t believe it didn’t occur to me before.

This is a perfect busy weeknight meal.  The arugula salad and pesto instead of red sauce add a hint of sophistication and elegance to what could otherwise be a heavy spaghetti with meat sauce dinner.  Not that I don’t love a good spaghetti dinner, but I needed something a little more special and just as quick tonight.  Mission accomplished!

Good? Bitter, smooth, bright, tangy, salty, green, warm and filling.  Yep, good.
Easy? Definitely.
Good for company? Absolutely elegant enough for company
Special shopping? Nope. A use what ya’ got meal.

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