My kitchen is full of impulse buys from the neighborhood farmers market, spice markets from the places we’ve traveled to, and really good deals at Fairway that I couldn’t turn down. I have no plans for these ingredients when I buy them, but I appreciate the challenge of attempting to create a coherent dish out of things that really don’t (and maybe shouldn’t) go together.
I had not so recently purchased purple carrots from the farmers markets, which were languishing sadly in the back of the crisper drawer, me being unable to come up with a dish that would would appropriate highlight their rad color. Arugula, purchased at an insane discount at a grocery store was meeting a similarly limp fate. And my assortment of spices from Turkey, Mexico, and elsewhere were regrettably underused.
So I decided it was time for these ingredients to meet their maker (that’s me) in some pasta, the ultimate and most forgiving canvas. The carrots were sliced into beautiful ribbons and then caramelized under the broiler, while the arugula was “wilted” to hide its limpness. The vegetables needed to be invigorated with some spice, so I used Aleppo pepper, one of my favorites. And the sweet spiciness is a perfect complement to carrots. But at this point, all of the ingredients were fairly bright and the dish needed some balance. Pine nuts and a healthy serving of Parmesan added nuttiness to round out the pasta.
In the end, the pasta was beautiful, belying the true Frankenstein nature of the dish’s origin and also that it took only 20 minutes to make.
Mafalde pasta with carrots and arugula
cook time 20 min
This will be fine with many different kinds of pasta, though I do advise that you go with some sort of long noodle (e.g. papardelle). This is mostly because I like the visual echoing of the noodles and the ribbons of carrots.
If you don’t have pine nuts (they can be ridiculously expensive), hazelnuts would be a good substitute. Whatever you do, you MUST toast your nuts!
2 servings dried pasta, about 110 grams
70 grams / 2½ ounces peeled carrots, about 1 large or 4 small (carrots can vary wildly in size)
2 tbsp / 20 grams pine nuts, roughly chopped
2 tsp Aleppo pepper (more if you like spice)
2 cups loosely packed arugula
½ ounce / 15 grams freshly grated parmesean cheese (about ½ cup)
1 tbsp room temperature butter
1 tsp + 1½ tbsp olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt
- Preheat the broiler.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil while broiler is heating up.
- Meanwhile peel the carrots and cut into ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Place in a baking pan and lightly coat with about 1 tsp of olive oil. Lightly salt. Place under broiler and cook until the carrots start to caramelize at the edges, about 3-5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- The water for the pasta should be ready now. Add the pasta and cook until barely tender. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients for the sauce, which will take about 5-8 minutes. With this timing, the pasta and the other ingredients will finish cooking around the same time.
- Toast the pine nuts and Aleppo pepper over medium heat in a large skillet (you will use this for the pasta later). Toss frequently, cooking until the pepper is fragrant and the pine nuts have just started to brown, about 2-4 minutes. Remove pine nuts and pepper from pan.
- Heat 1½ tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in the large skillet. Add the arugula and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Add the carrots, pine nuts, pepper, Parmesan, and salt to taste. Stir to evenly distribute the ingredients.
- Once the ingredients are evenly mixed, drain the pasta and add to the skillet. Drain quickly so that water is still clinging to the pasta. Toss the ingredients with the pasta. Top with additional Parmesan if desired.