Spaghetti with Pesto Arugula

1 pound spaghetti
4 cups arugula, divided 
1/3 – 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, peeled                     
1/2 cup blanched almonds
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper                                                                                        
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2  cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

In a large pot of salted boiling water, add the pasta and cook according to package directions.  Reserve 1 cup of warm pasta water.

In the meantime, combine 2 cups of arugula and all remaining ingredients in a food processor and pulse until creamy. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. When the pasta is ready, strain and transfer to a bowl, add the arugula pesto, mix well and add the remaining 2 cups of fresh arugula.  If the sauce is too thick, use some of the reserved warm pasta water to lighten it up. Serves 4-6

Native to the Mediterranean region, arugula has been grown as a vegetable since the Roman era. Arugula (Eruca vesicaria sativa) has a slightly bitter, peppery flavor and is a rich source of iron as well as vitamins A and C.

This pesto is surprisingly not bitter and very flavorful. Since arugula is so healthful, I decided to add more fresh arugula to the pasta.  That touch of lemon and red pepper flakes, give it the perfect balance.  Be careful, you may want to eat more than one portion!

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