Linguine with butter, cracked black pepper and arugula

Linguine, 1 lb, good-quality but not fresh - I like Rustichella d'Abruzzo if you can find it
Butter, salted, 1/2 stick
Olive oil, 1 tbsp
Black pepper, freshly ground, 1-2 tsp
Baby arugula, 4-6 cups
Coarse sea salt to taste

1. Salt a pot of water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. (Sorry, I'm not a professional recipe writer. Although I didn't boil water until I was 17 years old, if you need more instruction than this, you are beyond my aid.)
2. Drain pasta and return to pot. Turn off heat.
3. Add butter, olive oil and black pepper. Stir until butter is melted and pasta is completely coated.
4. Toss buttered pasta with arugula, until just coated. Serve immediately.

Serves: 6-8 people, depending on your choice of appetizers and desserts

Conversing with Maeve in
our college common room, c. 2007

The story: I adapted this recipe from Giada de Laurentiis and first made it in honor of my friend Maeve's birthday. I was living in Oxford, England at the time and walked through the Covered Market most days, picking up a few fresh things to cook with each night. There was a tiny Italian deli inside the market that had a good collection of high-quality pasta and crushed tomatoes, delicious fresh pesto and harissa, marinated artichokes and olives, and fresh mozzarella di bufala. I adore fresh arugula (better known to the greengrocer in the Covered Market as rocket).

Later, I made this recipe several times for an ex-boyfriend, who referred to it as "popcorn pasta." Ideally, the right balance of butter to pepper and arugula should keep it from reminding everyone of a trip to the movie theater.

I like to serve it with an appetizer that isn't as rich but contains more protein. Prosciutto e melone is a great choice.

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