Green Pasta (this is NOT pesto)

September 16, 2015
0 Ratings
Photo by David Rash
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

(Originally from
The mother of invention really is necessity. One desperate, hungry evening I was in need of a quick dinner (or, this particular night, a pre-Banana Pudding Trifle snack). Cavatappi in the pantry, a leek and some arugula in the fridge and, voila, dinner is served. You can substitute the leeks with about 3 green onions, still sautéing them, though not as long—it just so happens that I had a spare leek (they’re always sold in bunches of 3 and you only ever seem to need 2 at most… why is that?). You could really puree all of the green stuff at once rather than throw roughly chopped leaves in at the end but seeing the leafs really drives the green, herby point home. —David Rash

What You'll Need
  • 10 ounces cavatappi (but any short pasta would work)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • a few drops olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 small leek
  • 3 ounces baby arugula, roughly chopped & divided
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 2 tablespoons extra dry white vermouth
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus A LOT more for the pasta water
  1. Put a large pot of water, covered, over high heat to bring to a boil.
  2. While you wait on the water, start with the leek: trim the top off so you only have the white and very light green parts. Quarter lengthwise and slice into thin pieces. Rinse them in a colander and pad dry with some paper towel.
  3. In a large sauté pan over a medium flame, heat 1 ½ tablespoons of the butter and a few drops of olive oil with the smashed garlic cloves until melted and hot. Add the leeks and a little salt. Cook for about 5 minutes – until the leeks are fairly soft.
  4. Once softened, pour in the vermouth and stir it into the leeks. Turn off the heat and transfer the leeks to a small processor.
  5. Put about 2/3s of the arugula and half the parsley in the processor and blitz everything until relatively smooth.
  6. Heavily salt the pasta water and drop the pasta in, cooking to the package instructions for al dente.
  7. When the pasta has 4 minutes left, turn the arugula-leek blend back into the sauté pan and add about ½ cup of pasta water (but remove more in case you need it). Once it starts to bubble, add the cream.
  8. Drain the pasta, shake well and add to the pan. Toss to coat in the sauce for about 1 – 2 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat and toss in the Parm, remaining butter, lemon juice and zest, chives and remaining arugula and parsley. Serve hot.

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