Recipe: Penne with Beef and Arugula

“Mom! What are we having for dinner?”
“Chicken.”
“Awwwww! Again?”
“Yes.”

My mom’s use of chicken in just about every dinner dish we had when I was a kid was an ongoing joke. Other than spaghetti and meatballs, a totally 90s “taco pie,” and this awful beef and rice stuffed cabbage that she made, my mom’s dishes typically involved chicken. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love chicken (and my mom’s meals). You can do just about anything with chicken—you can flavor it with an endless number of sauces and rubs, pair it with any side dish, and cook it in countless different ways—but it does get boring after a while. So tonight, I decided not to cook with chicken and pick another protein. I leafed through the pages of my Giada De Laurentiis Everyday Pasta cookbook and found a pasta dish that called for New York strip steaks, and that was just the kind of meal I was looking for.

Serves: 6-8
Prep. time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 2 New York strip steaks, about 8 oz. each
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp. herbes de Provence
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus a few tablespoons to cook the steak in)
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard (or spicy brown mustard)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cups chopped arugula 

Directions
Season  both sides of the steaks with salt and pepper, minced garlic, and herbes de Provence. Heat about 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat (try to avoid non-stick skillets as they tend to not brown meat as well as regular skillets). Cook the steaks for 5-7 minutes per side (this will get you a nice medium pink inside). Remove the meat from the skillet and let it rest on a cutting board while you cook the pasta.
In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally (8-10 minutes). Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, balsamic vinegar, 3/4 cup olive oil, basil, parsley, and about 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper to make a sauce.
Toss the sauce and chopped arugula with the penne, and add the reserved cooking liquid. Slice the steaks thin and add the slices to the pasta, and toss to mix completely.

The sauce has a lot of kick to it and pairs perfectly with the steak (it would be great just drizzled on a salad too). The fresh herbs and arugula add a lightness to the dish and great color too, and I love the flavor of the herbes de Provence on the steak (that seasoning is phenomenal—it has lemon peel, lavender, thyme, basil, fennel, savory, and more). It’s a delicious change from a chicken dish and it’s the sort of dish that would work great as a meal hot from the stove or as a dish for a picnic.

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