Pasta, a staple for any carb-loving college student, has a very broad quality spectrum. At one end of the spectrum lies overcooked noodles smothered in ketchup (introduced to me by a friend whom I thereafter redubbed an enemy), and at the other end are fancy restaurant dishes with long Italian names that cost 50 dollars for a quarter of a plate of food.

My goal was to find a pasta dish that was almost as easy as ketchup noodles but that was also more fun and significantly less nauseating—nay, even appetizing! The answer to this prayer came in the form of roasted grape tomato and arugula cavatelli, introduced to me at a pasta cooking class that I was lucky enough to take over spring break.

This dish is a perfect complement to the newfound spring weather. It is light and flavorful and most importantly, it capitalizes on the rapidly approaching tomato season. This dish is also great because you probably haven’t run out of points yet, so you can afford to splurge on different types of ricotta (fresh is soft and milky; salata is salted, dried, and crumbly).

Note: If you are one of the many people I have met who “likes tomato sauce but hates tomatoes,” I implore you to try this recipe anyway. I hate to sound unsympathetic, but the difference between tomato sauce and this recipe is that regular marinara has even more tomato-related products and maybe a pulse or two on a food processor. If necessary, close your eyes and have someone feed you this dish, and you’ll be happy to find that it is only a couple more baby steps from there to becoming a tomato fanatic like me.

Bowtie Pasta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes and Arugula
Recipe adapted from Micol Negrin of Rustico Cooking
Serves four

3/4 lb. dried small pasta
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp. minced Italian parsley
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. chili flakes
1 tbsp. salt
2-3 oz. arugula
1/2 cup fresh whole-milk     ricotta
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 tbsp. chopped basil
1/3 cup grated ricotta salata
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Parmesan, to garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss whole grape tomatoes with olive oil, garlic, parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and chili flakes, and spread them over a baking sheet. Let cook for approximately 30 minutes, until soft and beginning to burst.
2. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a large pot for your pasta. When the water is boiling, add a generous amount of salt and the pasta, and allow it to cook until al dente (follow the directions on the box). Drain the water from the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water to use later.
3. Place the pasta in a large mixing bowl with the tomatoes. Add in the 1/4 cup pasta water, one tablespoon salt, arugula, fresh ricotta, garlic, cilantro, basil, ricotta salata, and olive oil. Mix well.
4. Taste to adjust seasoning, and serve hot with Parmesan cheese.

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