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

Description

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


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

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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31 Comments

  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!

  4. When I saw this post this morning, I immediately knew what I was making for dinner tonight. So I tried it out, and it was delicious and a very quick dinner to make! Perfect for weeknight meals. Thank you for the recipe and the inspiration!

  5. I love simple pasta recipes as they always taste more amazing than you’d think just looking at the ingredients list. And if they’ve got lemon – even better! This one sounds great, another one to try out.

  6. I love dishes like this that are bright and quick. We really love stir frys for easy weeknight meals. We throw whatever veggies we have in a skillet with chicken or thin strips of beef and saute it in sesame oil. We are huge fans of Asian sauces and like being able to customize it to be more sweet or spicy (we might be a tad obsessed with Sriracha!) depending on our mood. We serve it over udon or rice noodles for a quick filling meal!

    1. Sounds delicious — we’re huge Sriracha fans too. The stir fry is such a great improv meal! We’ve been doing a variation on it a lot lately – fried rice – a similar “clean out the fridge” type of idea.

  7. I was impressed by this recipe when you posted it earlier this week, so I made it tonight for a friend. We enjoyed it very much. It’s a cinch to make, and so fresh and healthy! Will definitely make it again very soon! Thanks. :)

    1. Melanie — Wonderful! I’m so glad you tried it out and enjoyed it! It is so great to hear feedback on recipes, so thank you for taking the time to let us know :)

  8. One look at this recipe and I know it will become a “go-to” meal in our home too. Sounds wonderful. We love lemon and arugula. Looks delicious! A really nice, nutritious way to get your fill of pasta for the week :)

  9. I just clipped this to my Evernote recipe file. 5 years ago, I would have said putting white beans with pasta was just plain crazy, but now I do it all the time. So tasty and so healthy!

  10. You mentioned about some things you had learned over the years not to rush when cooking. I was wondering if you have a compilation or could write a post about what all you have found is worth it to spend time cooking. I know I used to cook everything on high, and only recently have I been trying to cook things slower (kind of a must when making carmelized onions. ;-) ). I would love to read a post about what to give a little extra time to when cooking. Love your blog.

    1. Carolyn, this is a wonderful idea! I’ve added this to our list of post ideas. Thanks for mentioning!

  11. Just made this for dinner and used a combo of spinach and arugula. It was delicious! Thank you for sharing. I will make it again!

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