Beef (and pasta) – It’s what’s for dinner!

September 27, 2010

Beef and Spinach Pasta

A couple of years back I saw this recipe on an episode of Everyday Italian. The theme of the show was Picnic Planner, as Giada was packing a lunch to surprise her hubby with at work. The show was a bit cheesy, but the recipes had stuck in my mind for a while, especially the pasta. I love arugula and had wanted to make this for quite a while.

Earlier this year when arugula came in in the garden, I knew just what to use it for. I had always kind of thought this recipe was odd for a picnic, but after making it, I decided it was more like a pasta salad — perfect warm or at room temperature. The sauce you pour over it is basically a dijon vinaigrette, which is very quick and easy to make. Thus me making it this week with what I could find in the refrigerator and pantry.

I used orecchiette instead of penne since that’s what I had on hand, and I also switched the arugula with spinach. That last substitution I wouldn’t recommend if you’re going to the store to stock up anyway. It’s not bad; it’s just not as good as the arugula. For the vinaigrette, I prefer to just put all of the ingredients in a jar, tighten the lid, and shake while I’m doing other things — turning the steak, draining the pasta, etc. Also, if you want to vegetarian-ize this dish, I would suggest substituting portobellos for the steak. The flavors would work well together.

Beef and Spinach Pasta

Penne with Beef and Arugula
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Serves 6 to 8 servings (I would say it serves more around 4 for a main course)
Vegetarian alternative at the end of recipe

1 (1-pound) New York strip steak
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
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, 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. Toss, pack for the picnic, or serve.

Vegetarian alternative: Substitute 3 portobello mushrooms for the steak. Leave whole, and coat in olive oil and the spices and garlic. Cook for approximately 5 minutes each side. Remove from grill, slice, and toss with the pasta as you would have the steak.

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