"Less is more" has become the mantra of cooks seeking to speed up meals. Choose high-flavor ingredients, use fewer of them and get dinner on the table in minutes.
For example, arugula, a peppery salad green that is readily available this time of the year, is one of my favorite shortcuts to intense taste. When young, it has an almost nutty flavor; but when allowed to grow too long in the garden, it becomes sharp and mustard-like. Some people object to this; but I find it refreshing--in small doses.
Arugula is sold in supermarkets and farmers markets, and a fistful is all that is necessary in an entree for two. (Nothing tastes just like arugula, but spinach and a generous dash of pepper could substitute.)
Other ingredients I rely on to pack a punch include jalapeno chiles, roasted sweet peppers, anchovies, garlic and goat cheese.
The following fast and fresh-tasting pasta dishes include arugula. Bucatini with roasted pepper cream is a rich, satisfying dish.
Spaghetti with arugula and anchovies is a takeoff on bagna cauda, a type of fondue using anchovies, garlic and olive oil popular in Nice, France.
SPAGHETTI WITH ARUGULA AND ANCHOVIES
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 ounces minced anchovies
2 cups sliced arugula
1 cup clam broth
8 ounces spaghetti
Freshly ground pepper
Heat oil in medium skillet. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute 1 minute. Add anchovies and arugula and cook over medium heat 1 minute. Add clam broth and simmer 5 minutes.
Meanwhile cook spaghetti in boiling, salted water according to package directions, or until just tender. Drain well. Return spaghetti to pan. Add anchovy mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well. Makes 2 servings.
BUCATINI WITH ROASTED PEPPER CREAM
1 medium sweet red pepper
8 ounces bucatini
1 medium shallot
2 to 3 teaspoons chopped red jalapeno chiles
2 tablespoons creme fraiche, or 1 tablespoon sour cream and 1 tablespoon whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup chopped arugula
2 tablespoons diced mild goat cheese
Place sweet red pepper over flame of stove and turn to blacken all sides. Or blacken under broiler. Remove and place in plastic food bag. Seal bag and set aside 20 to 30 minutes. Remove pepper from bag. Place under cold running water and scrape off skin with paring knife. Core and seed pepper. Cut into bite-size pieces.
Meanwhile, cook bucatini in boiling, salted water according to package directions, or until just tender.
Puree pepper in blender along with shallot, chile, creme fraiche, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
Drain pasta well and pour pepper mixture over top. Toss well. Add arugula and goat cheese and toss again until cheese melts. Makes 2 servings.