This is a super easy and fast pasta dish that never fails to satisfy. The sharp bite of the arugula and lemon are softened and harmonized by crème fraiche, resulting in a sophisticated and delicate pasta that will please both adults and children.
If you can find Meyer lemons, use them here. Standard lemons will work, but Meyer lemons are slightly sweeter and have an intense yellow-orange skin, which adds to both the color and flavor of this pasta. Meyer lemons are harvested in the winter, making them a vibrant harbinger of the sunny days of spring to come.
Pasta with Lemon, Arugula, and Crème Fraiche
1 pound pasta, preferably linguine or spaghetti
2 lemons – use Meyer lemons if you can find them – both zest and juice
2 cups arugula, thoroughly washed and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese, plus extra for serving
½ cup crème fraiche
Salt and pepper
- Cook pasta until it is al dente (see “Cook Pasta Like A Professional” for specifics).
- Just before draining the pasta, scoop out some of the hot, starchy water and set aside. A handled coffee mug works well to keep your hands away from the boiling water.
- While the pasta is cooking, place the chopped arugula, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the zest of two lemons into a serving bowl and stir.
- When the pasta is drained, add it to the serving bowl, and toss ingredients until the pasta is well coated. Add the juice of one lemon and about 2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water, stirring until everything is combined, the cheese is melted, and the arugula is wilted.
- Add the crème fraiche and toss well. Add more hot pasta water, if necessary, to create a creamy texture.
- Before serving, add additional lemon juice, grated cheese, along with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pasta with Lemon, Peas, and Crème Fraiche. Substitute 1 cup frozen green peas for the arugula. About 6 minutes before your pasta is cooked, add the frozen peas to the pot and allow the peas and pasta to cook together.
- Pasta with Lemon and Arugula. Eliminate the crème fraiche. You may want to add a small amount of good quality olive oil to the pasta to make it creamier.
- Quinoa with Lemon and Arugula. Eliminate the crème fraiche, and use quinoa in lieu of the pasta for a more protein-rich option.
Crème fraiche, a fermented dairy cream, is an essential component of many French recipes. It is similar in texture and thickness to sour cream, but has a softer, less sour taste and because of its high fat content, will not curdle in sauces. Try using a few tablespoons of crème fraiche in soups or mashed vegetables to create a creamy texture.
Arugula, known charmingly as “rocket” in some parts of the world, is loaded with folic acid and antioxidants, which can contribute to an enhanced immune system.