Creamy Arugula Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and Tomato
Some of my favorite recipes are the ones that demonstrate that food does not need to be complicated to be sublime. It’s a refreshing reminder that my primary role as the maker (and eater!) of the meal is to allow the ingredients shine. I can’t imagine a better season to let my ingredients to do their natural, tasty thang than summer, the season of bounty and easy living, nor can I imagine a better recipe to celebrate it with than this Creamy Arugula Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and Tomato.
As much as I adore simple recipes that, at first forkful, make me sing with appreciation for the great small joys of culinary life—joys such as ripe, sweet summer tomatoes, creamy dreamy goat cheese, and a bright pop of lemon, all of which you’ll find in this goat cheese pasta salad recipe—creating them can be challenging. “More is more” is a tempting and often pervasive philosophy. In reality (and in pasta salad), however, sometimes a small handful of thoughtful ingredients are all you need.
About This Creamy Pasta Salad
One lady who continually inspires me to create thoughtful is my friend Kathryne of the blog Cookie and Kate. Kathryne and I met on a blogging trip several years ago, and when she told me that she was writing a cookbook, I could not have been more thrilled.
Not only does Kathryne carefully consider every single aspect of her recipes, from whether or not the ingredients are easy to find, to how many measuring spoons you are going to dirty to make them, to if the flavor balance is exactly what she is after, she tests her recipes more than any food blogger I know. I knew that whatever book she wrote was going to be beautiful, incredibly well thought out, and LOADED with winning recipe after winning recipe.
Guess what? I was right! After two years of pouring her heart into every page and recipe, Kathryne’s book Love Real Food is on shelves now, and I couldn’t be happier for her or more excited to try as many recipes from it as possible.
Kathryne’s blog is one of my go-tos anytime I need a fresh, healthy meal (this Mexican Kale Quinoa Salad is a recent favorite) or a wholesome baked treat. Her recipes are vegetarian, and I’ve yet to encounter a single one that wasn’t ultra satisfying, no meat necessary, or as delicious as she promised.
Selecting which recipe from Love Real Food to share with you was not a simple task—would it be the Fresh Greek Nachos with Herbed Tahini Sauce or the Blueberry Almond Cake? The Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies or the Tropical Mango Smoothie Bowl? SO MANY OPTIONS.
I ultimately settled on this goat cheese pasta salad, because it felt light, sunny, and ideal for summer, because the prep looked easy breezy, and because any recipe with the words “goat cheese” in the title is already halfway to winning my undying love.
Verdict: DELICIOUS. Also, genius. The creamy pasta “sauce” comes entirely from the goat cheese itself as it melts into the warm pasta. From there, all you need is a splash of lemon and a dash red pepper flakes to bring the pasta to life. Fresh arugula adds a lively bite, olives a hint of brininess (feel free to omit them if they aren’t your thing), and cherry tomatoes provide juicy pops of sweetness. It’s summer in all its beautiful simplicity, transformed into a giant bowl of pasta.
I inhaled this pasta salad for lunch approximately 30 seconds after I finished shooting the photos, then Ben ate it rewarmed with an extra crumble of goat cheese for dinner that evening. Both versions received glowing reviews.
Thanks, Kathryne, for sharing your recipe!
How to Store This Pasta Salad
- To Store. This salad is best consumed soon after making, but it keeps well, chilled, for 2 to 3 days. I like to gently reheat my leftover salad for just a few seconds in the microwave, which loosens up the goat cheese again.
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Stock pot with insert (I added the insert recently, and I highly recommend it. It’s perfect for blanching veggies and, when you do cook pasta, ensuring you don’t toss out the pasta water by mistake).
- Glass mixing bowl (doubles for serving!)
Creamy Arugula Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and Tomato
- 8 ounces whole-grain fusilli pasta - or rotini pasta
- 4 ounces goat cheese - crumbled (about 2/3 cup)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil - plus more if needed
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice - plus more if needed
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 5 to 6 ounces baby arugula - 5 to 6 packed cups
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes - sliced into thin rounds
- 1/3 cup pitted and thinly sliced Kalamata olives - optional
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and pour it into a large serving bowl.
- Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese over the pasta, then drizzle in the olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle the salt, red pepper flakes, and several twists of black pepper on top. Pour about 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water over the pasta and toss until the pasta is evenly coated.
- Add the arugula, cherry tomatoes, and olives (if using) and toss to combine. If the pasta seems dry, add small splashes of cooking water and toss until it’s nice and creamy. Taste and adjust if necessary—add more olive oil for richness, lemon juice for extra zing, and salt and/or pepper for seasoning. Serve immediately.
- This salad is best consumed soon after making, but it keeps well, chilled, for 2 to 3 days. I like to gently reheat my leftover salad for just a few seconds in the microwave, which loosens up the goat cheese again.
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