Like many people, I first heard of arugula from an exasperated Steve Martin in My Blue Heaven, explaining to an entire supermarket that arugula is a “veg-e-ta-ble.” It was a few years after that when I first tried arugula, and I was put off by its peppery bitterness. I have since come to appreciate the flavor of raw arugula, but I discovered that I like it even better cooked.
Arugula leaves are so delicate that they’re basically ready once they’ve been heated, so you should prep everything else first (note: I don’t usually photograph my mise en place but it looked kind of like a classic still life painting and I couldn’t resist). I cut up a carrot (Mike Colameco recommends cooking carrots with bitter greens for a touch of sweetness, and it’s a great tip) as well as some lemon zest (I wanted the flavor of lemon without too much acidity) and a shallot. As soon as the pasta started boiling I heated up some olive oil and slowly sauteed those three ingredients, with a little salt and pepper. When the carrots soften I added the arugula, which wilts almost automatically.
Finish it off by adding the pasta (along with some of the cooking water) and top with shaved parmesan.