I made Orecchiette with Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula last night - a pasta dish local to Puglia - and let me just say that I officially love Lidia Bastianich. I love her cooking style - there's nothing pretentious about her food or how she prepares it. You can also see how much of her travels inspire a lot of her recipes. I hope one day I get the chance to travel and collect cooking ideas from around the world.
This dish singlehandedly proves that simple is better.
A bag of cherry tomatoes cut in half
4 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
1/2 box of Orecchiette
bunch of Arugula, clean and trimmed
extra virgin olive oil
crushed red pepper flakes
Cleaning sandy veggies
The best way to clean arugula that hasn't been pre-washed is to place it in a huge bowl of cold water. Wait a couple of minutes then slowly lift up leaves and drain the water out of the bowl. You'll notice that the sand/dirt finds its way to the bottom of the bowl. Repeat a couple of times, until your bowl is sand free. This works for all leafy greens that tend to be sandy (e.g Spinach).
step 1. Heat up a large pot of water for pasta.
step 2. Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add garlic (cook for 30 seconds to a minute), add cherry tomatoes, and season with salt and crushed red pepper. Please be sure that you season it well with salt - it makes a huge difference if you under season. Lower your heat so the sauce can begin to simmer. You want to get it to a point where the tomatoes burst and the skins get all wrinkly.
step 3. In the meantime, add salt to the pasta water and begin cooking the orecchiette. Follow box instructions, it should take approximately 11 minutes.
Add the arugula to the pasta right before it's fully cooked (time it so that the pasta only needs a couple more minutes before it's ready). Cook for 2 minutes and set aside 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Drain pasta and arugula - transfer into the tomato and garlic pan. Mix.
Turn off heat and add some Pecorino Romano or Parmesan. Drizzle in some fresh olive oil before serving. If it looks dry, you can spoon in some of the reserved pasta water.
Hope you give this one a try!