1/3cuppitted and thinly sliced Kalamata olivesoptional
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.