Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Penne with Beef and Arugula

You know that feeling of excitement you get when you go out to dinner at a nice restaurant? You know you're going to get great food that you might not be able to replicate at home. You are going to be served, you'll have unlimited Diet Coke (always a plus for me!) and no dishes. We don't eat out that often, but when I do I always get giddy.

That same feeling applies when I eat dinner with anyone from my husband's side of the family. They are all stellar cooks - you know, the kind that can throw something together without a recipe and somehow it magically tastes amazing. I hang out in the kitchen like a star-struck apprentice just to learn a few things.

My sister-in-law, Sophie, grilled romaine hearts once. Amazing.

My mother-in-law, Josette, made a split pea soup for Christmas Eve once. I don't even like split pea soup but I can't stop thinking about how delicious is was. And no, she doesn't remember how she made it. She just "threw a little bit of this, a little bit of that" together.

I really could go on and on.

Sophie had us for dinner one night, and made this great recipe that included penne pasta, steak, arugula, basil, and a balsamic vinaigrette. My husband, Jeremiah, was immediately in love and begged Sophie for the recipe.

Turns out, the recipe comes from my idol, Giada. Love her! So sadly, we can't take credit for this one, but what kind of friend would I be if I didn't share one of our family's favorite dishes? I will be making this one for Jeremiah for Valentine's Day, and probably again for Father's Day. It's always his first request.

Penne with Beef and Arugula
by Giada de Laurentiis

1 (1-pound) New York strip steak (I use any thick steak on sale)
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence (or Italian seasoning)
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
1 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for steak and pasta water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for steak
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 cups chopped arugula

Season the steak with salt and freshly ground black pepper, herbs de Provence (or Italian seasoning), and minced garlic. In a skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Cook steak about 7 minutes per side. Remove the meat from pan and let it rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water.

In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, fresh herbs, and 3/4 cup olive oil. In a large bowl toss the pasta with half of the salad dressing and the reserved pasta water. Add the arugula and steak, more dressing, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed.

Serve warm.

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