The peppery taste of arugula is a natural with tomatoes and feta cheese. And shallots do double duty, providing the flavors of both onion and garlic. Using just the right proportion of these few highly flavored ingredients creates a simple sauce as aromatic as it is memorable. This is quick enough to prepare for a family dinner, but it is ideal company fare, too.
12 ounces penne (about 4 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup minced shallots
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 cups coarsely chopped stemmed arugula leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
Dash of salt, or to taste
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
garnish: freshly ground pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat; add salt, then the penne. When the water returns to a boil, stir occasionally to separate the penne. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for about 12 to 14 minutes, or according to package instructions, until the noodles are al dente.
While the penne is cooking, heat the oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots; cook, stirring constantly, until tender but not browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and juice; cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in the arugula and parsley; cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the arugula is wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, pepper, and salt; cover to keep warm.
When the penne is done, drain well; return to the pot. Add the sauce and toss. Add the feta cheese and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning.