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This simple lemon arugula rigatoni pasta recipe is full of nutritious greens, white beans, lemon, and a bit of Parmesan cheese.

Lemon Arugula Rigatoni Pasta Recipe

When we first started cooking, we wanted everything quick. The quicker the better, in our minds. We took lots of shortcuts to get to delicious food in the fastest way possible. Along we the way, we started to learn that while some shortcuts work, others sacrifice flavor in a big way. Sometimes, there actually is a reason to simmer a soup longer than 20 minutes, or to wait for dough to rest. We’ve learned that the hard way — but gained valuable lessons about what is worth the wait. This rigatoni pasta recipe, though, is so quick and simple that there’s no need to wait! Keep reading for the recipe.

Related: Orecchiette Pasta with Lemon Asparagus

Making this rigatoni pasta recipe

Now that we don’t mind spending a little extra time for the payoff in the end, quick meals that don’t sacrifice flavor are “it” for us. This lemon arugula rigatoni pasta recipe is one of those — zesty, tart lemon along with fresh baby arugula, white beans, and savory Pecorino cheese. It’s essential Italian: simple flavors at their finest, and can be pulled off in 30 minutes or less.

We were hooked the first time we made this rigatoni pasta recipe with baby arugula from our local farmers market, and we’ve made it again a few times for some meals with friends. Since it’s so quick and simple, it’s already become a “Go To” meal for us. (PS Want more recipes with this leafy green? Here are our best arugula recipes.)

Lemon Arugula Rigatoni

Baby arugula is a must! Don’t use standard arugula.

Make sure to buy baby arugula for this pasta: not standard! You can find baby arugula in lots of mainstream groceries here in the US! It’s also available at farmers markets. As a rule of thumb: if it is sold as a bunch, stay away. Use the baby greens that are sold in packages or bags. Here’s the difference between the two:

  • Baby arugula is tender, with a mild flavor and a fluffy texture.
  • Standard arugula is usually sold in bunches. It has a much stronger peppery flavor, and sometimes the stems are tougher. It’s not as good for a salad like this one.

How to cook pasta to al dente? 

Cooking pasta too long is a common mistake in the kitchen. For this rigatoni pasta recipe, you’ll want to have perfectly al dente pasta. To cook pasta to al dente, check the package instructions and then start tasting your pasta a few minutes before that! The timing listed on many packages results in rubbery pasta. You want to catch the pasta right when it goes from crunchy to tender. It should still be slightly firm inside–but not crunchy!

We’d love to hear from you — what are your favorite, simple “Go To” meals?  Please let us know your ideas in the comments below!

This rigatoni pasta recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

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Lemon Arugula Rigatoni Pasta Recipe

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


This simple lemon arugula rigatoni pasta recipe is full of nutritious greens, white beans, lemon, and a bit of Parmesan cheese.


  • 3/4 pound whole wheat or gluten-free rigatoni
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 15-ounce can cannellini beans
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup grated Pecorino (or Parmesan) cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
  • Fresh ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the cannellini beans and place them in a large bowl with 4 cups arugula. Add the lemon zest and juice of the lemon to the bowl, then add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss gently to combine all flavors.
  3. When pasta is done, drain it and add immediately to the large bowl with beans and arugula. Add another 1 tablespoon olive oil and ¾ cup Pecorino cheese and stir to combine (the warm pasta will wilt the arugula and warm the beans).
  4. Serve immediately, topped with additional cheese, salt, pepper, olive oil and/or lemon zest if desired.


Adapted from Martha Stewart

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian Inspired

Keywords: Lemon Arugula Pasta, Rigatoni Pasta recipe, Rigatoni Pasta, Pasta Recipes, Vegetarian Pasta Recipe

Looking for more fast and easy dinner recipes?

Outside of this lemon arugula rigatoni pasta recipe, here a few more of our favorite fast and easy dinner recipes:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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  1. The warm weather has made me CRAVE simple lemony dishes. This pasta sounds perfect. Just a tip- the canalinis don’t appear in the list of ingredients in the recipe.

  2. Pasta is definitely my go too when I want a quick meal (which I do quite often). I’ve made a similar recipe before with parsley rather than arugula which was so tasty. Can’t wait to give this one a try!

  3. Isn’t it funny how you can “forget” favorite recipes and flavors as the seasons change? This is such a classic, perfect flavor combination, but staring at a bag of arugula at the market last weekend, I would never have remembered it. Thanks for this delicious, simple recipe–I can’t wait to make it!
    P.S. The lemon zest in your photos is just so lovely! It really makes the photos *pop*!

    1. You are welcome — we hope you enjoy it! And thanks re the lemon zest — it really makes the flavor pop too!

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