penne with caramelized onions, goat cheese & arugula

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This is one of the few pasta dishes I’ve made where the absence of a sauce is not an issue! Caramelizing the onions gives them a really nice sweet and salty flavor, which pairs beautifully with the tangy goat cheese. Adding the arugula at the very end gives the dish I nice bite of peppery freshness.


2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 onions, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 pound preferred mushrooms, cut into slices

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

3/4 pound penne

3-4 cups arugula

3 ounces soft goat cheese, such as Montrachet, crumbled

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving



In a large frying pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are well browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the pan.

In the same pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and brown, about 8 minutes. Add the reserved onions, the parsley, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the penne until just done.  Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain. Toss the penne and 1/2 of the reserved pasta water with the mushroom mixture, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the goat cheese, arugula and the Parmesan until the arugula just begins to wilt. Do not over-mix!  If the pasta seems dry, add more of the reserved pasta water. Serve with additional Parmesan.

optional: you can also add 1/2 cup of thawed frozen peas and one chopped tomato.


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