penne-with-potatoes-and-rocket Recipes

penne with potatoes and rocket

I’ve been somewhat fascinated by the idea of putting potatoes in a pasta dish since I first saw a recipe for it a couple years ago, and my Inner American gasped “All of that starch! How totally unhealthy!” forgetting, as usual, that the people in the world that eat dishes like this are for the most part, 75 percent of the size of your average American.

1/3-inch slices of potatopennerocket!potato, onion and garlic

But the disconnect between American dieting ideals and results is not what I wanted to discuss today, promise. This is really about it being late winter in the Northeast, a good month or two before the local produce looks particularly tempting and being kind of sick to death of everything readily available. Suddenly, potatoes and pasta don’t just sound feasible, but like they’re the best idea, ever. Throw in some sharp, spicy arugula and rosemary, if that’s your thing, and you might also wonder why you haven’t made it sooner.

penne

One year ago: Butterscotch Ice Cream
Two years ago: Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad

Pasta with Potatoes and Rocket
Adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables

My only grievance with this dish, if there could be one, was the amount of garlic in it. For some reason, 4 to 6 clovers for a dish that only lightly sautees it and does not suspend it in a sauce seemed way over the top. (Or perhaps have I lost my taste for “unmistakeably all-American” doses of garlic.) I’d use one clove next time, perhaps two.

Serves 4
1 pound firm boiling potatoes (I’d recommend fingerlings, even though we couldn’t find them)
About 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 bunches rocket (about a half pound)
1 small red onion
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, or as per my experience, 1 or 2
1 sprig rosemary (optional)
3/4 pound penne or other tubular pasta
1/2 lemon
Preheat the oven to 400°. Slice the potatoes about 1/3 inch thick and toss them with a small amount of the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them in a single layer in an ovenproof dish or on a baking sheet (I like to line mine with parchment, to make everything — and clean-up, easier) and roast in the oven until they are golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes. (Mine took a bit longer.)

Meanwhile, wash the rocket* (older, larger leaves are preferable to the tender sprouts), drain, and set aside. Slice the red onion thin. Peel and chop fine the garlic cloves and the rosemary leaves. Put a large pot of salter water on to boil for the pasta.

When the potatoes are done, remove them from teh oven and put the pasta on to boil. Heat a saute pan, add some of olive oil, and saute the sliced onion until it is soft and translucent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the rocket and garlic, and saute both until they just begin to wilt and soften. Lower the heat, add the potato slices and rosemary and toss together for a minutre or two. When the noodles are done, drain them and add them to the potatoes and onion. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and toss everything together. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.

* I’m kind of a nut about arugula-washing techniques, so here is my tried-and-true method: Get a very big bowl. Fill it with cold, cold water. Cut the attached part of the arugula bundle off (so they’re in individual sprigs) and drop the bundle in the water. Have a colander nearby. Swish, swish, swish the arugula around with your hand and then scoop it up and dump it in the colander, being careful not to pick up the sandy dirt you’ve just dropped to the bottom of the water. (That’s the genius, by the way, the dirt always drops off.) If the water is still foggy/beige, rinse the bowl out and repeat this process until it is clear, and the sand at the bottom is at a minimum. Shake out the lettuce in the colander and either spin it in a salad spinner or spread it out on a big dish towel until it is dry. I actually wash all lettuces this way, but arugula, being particularly dirt-crusted, is particularly made for this technique.

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122 comments on penne with potatoes and rocket

  1. Oooh this looks so good! Pasta and potatoes were two staples in my Italian/Irish family growing up, so the thought of combining them is just perfect! Thanks Deb!

  2. Lemon, rosemary and rocket? I love that! I have not had potatoes with pasta, but I am carb addicted so I think I would really enjoy that. Thanks for posting!

  3. Every time Jamie Oliver says the word “rocket” I smile. This looks delicious. We’re growing rocket this year because I can’t buy it here. I can hardly wait for the first crop!

  4. I’m laughing at the garlic quote and enjoyed the link!

    btw the tex-mex snob in me thinks the migas from a few days ago look fantastic, and I am dying to get to the store so I can make them!

  5. I just had potatoes and pasta together in the same dish for the first time a few months ago, and I had the same reaction…why would you do this? quickly became why have I never done this before???

  6. Perfect! Will definitely give this one a try. I totally agree with you: My first reaction as I watched a friend toss roasted sweet potatoes into a pasta dish was…too much starch! I can’t tell you how delicious it was/is!

  7. I think the heavy garlic is definitely a feature of hotter cuisines (by “hotter” I mean “Of a warmer climate”), and although I do love garlic (see Chicken Marbella) it can get overwhelming (see Chicken Marbella).

    I was aghast at Potatoes! With Pasta! But then I remembered that one of my favorite pizzas at California Pizza Kitchen (and yes, I just admitted to eating at California Pizza Kitchen enough to have favorites, but my last NYC apartment was right next door to the one on 60th, and the BBQ chicken chopped salad is seriously so good) has potatoes, and is all the better as a result.

  8. O, you stumped me with the “rocket” business! Not familiar with that as arugula. Learn something new everyday…I agree with the lack of good fresh veggies at this time of year and am anxious for a great produce stand. Thanks for the great recipe. The lack of meat makes it particularly great in a Catholic household during Lent :)

  9. may be used roasted garlic cloves…. mixed in with the lemon juice (and a little zest), a little olive oil or a tiny bit of pasta water (or balsamic…)… enough for a drizzle – and toss that in with the whole lot…

    and a bit of really good shaved parm :)

  10. I’ve got leftover Roasted Potatoes and Lemons from the River Cafe Cookbook in the fridge. I think I’ll combine that with some pasta and rocket for dinner tonight. Pasta and potatoes; sounds just dandy to me!

  11. This looks simple and delicious. And friendly on the pocket, too. I have the same carb overload warning go off inside my head when I see something like this, but fortunately my inner Greek quickly tells me to relax and hands me a big hunk of village-styles bread.

  12. I’ve just discovered Chez Panisse Vegetables and it’s my new favorite cook-book! I’ve actually been eyeing that recipe, and believe it or not, even my inner Russian was horrified at the amount of starch. Then I got over it. :)

  13. Well, if they put potatoes on a pizza, why not toss with pasta? At least it’s fresh. I’m with you on the garlic; a little is plenty for me now. I want to taste more than just the garlic in my concoction. Some basil might be good for those that aren’t fans of rosemary or a little pesto folded into some whipped cream as a garnish.

  14. This looks great. Reminds me of a dish I haven’t made in a while, which is penne, cooked like risotto in white wine and broth instead of boiling it, with fingerlings, cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs. I’ll gladly try this version, too.

  15. I didn’t even notice the potatoes in the dish until you mentioned the weirdness of it. It is weird to me but the picture was screaming I am delicious, eat me so I didn’t notice.

  16. So sorry that I didn’t see this sooner. Boo, hoo. All I had was a can of tuna while I could have been eating pasta and potatoes. Ok, it would have required a trip to the store but still…had I known. Looks yummy, even with the weather 80* here. May have to try later this week! Then hit the gym the next day for guilt free carbs.

  17. Mmmm…..yummmm…..having grown up in the middle of Amish country, Lancaster County, PA, noodles and potatoes are comfort food. Our chicken pot pie didn’t have a crust. It was an old hen, cooked ’til tender, in a savory broth with homemade pot pie noodles, onions, carrots, celery, garden peas and potatoes. And saffron, if you had it. If it had a crust, it was a chicken pie, not a pot pie.

  18. When I was a kid we’d eat potatoes and eggs, which everyone around me thought was weird. Ten years later they were all paying $15 for it and calling it “frittata” :)

  19. Mark Bittman has a potato and pasta recipe in How To Cook Everything that caught my eye, and my reaction was pretty similar to yours. Like, what? Potatoes…in a pasta dish? I had to try it though and I gotta say, it was really good.

    I have no idea how to cook fingerling potatoes. No one in the Midwest eats these things and they’re even less likely to in Utah. =/

  20. AHHHH. A simple yet marvelous way to begin the week. I just finished cooked an intense indian banquet so it comforts me to see something simple.

    Thanks.

  21. Pasta and potatoes – I somehow find this hard to imagine! Not because I worry about the carbs (I really don’t), it would just never have occured to me to combine the two… I’m now quite intrigued to try it, though!

  22. This looks amazing…and here I am at 7am drooling over potatoes and pasta! I will have to remember to pick up some rocket at the store next time, and make this! Yum!

  23. My Hungarian grandmother often combined potatoes and pasta in a paprika infused, oniony dish. Needless to say…it was delicious! This also looks delightful. One must get creative at the end of a long, cold winter! Bless rosemary for sparking everything up.

  24. Hmmm…interesting…and I guess given that the only produce at the farmer’s market is potatoes and apples this makes a lot of sense. And I’m constantly throwing arugula in pasta and rice dishes so why not with potatoes as well? I’m kind of excited to give this carb fest a try now!

  25. I’ve been making this a version of this for over 10 years with one adjustment. Add your uncooked diced potatoes to the water when you cook the pasta. Meanwhile fry 4-6 slices of bacon, then fry 4-6 cloves of garlic till translucent. Toss crumbled bacon and garlic with rocket. Add potatoes and pasta, parmesan cheese, and some of the starchy cooking water to make a creamy sauce. Yum, one of my favorites.

  26. I love potatoes in any way shape or form! But the first time I saw roasted potatoes with qinoua was years ago at a vegetarian place called Claire’s in New Haven, Conn. Like you, at first I also thought it was wierd or unusual ( I had also never tasted qinoua yet). Turns out it was delicious! I even tried to recreate olive oil/lime/cilantro flavored dish at home –adding in roasted red peppers– so I could keep having it. Since then I’ve had potato pizza or potato bread regularly. Now I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t blink at potatoes with starch. Never tried it with pasta though–this sounds terrific. And also, this reminds me of Jamie Oliver and Israel (go “rocket!”) And also, easy on the pocket ;) Can’t wait to try it for dinner tonight. Thank you!

  27. I caught RR do something like this on her show one time, and was I was all aghast at the thought of double carbs. Now I’m thinking, if you eat just one portion of the dish, whats the diff?
    Anyway, she used some fancy cabbage and then topped it with fresh sage leaves browned in butter till crisp. It was pretty darn good….I made it without potatoes though… I have issues. I think from living in Florida, the land of Very Few Clothes.
    ps that cake from yesterday..gorgeous and yet still with a sense of being homeade. Very hard to pull off both at once.

  28. I have never tried potatoes and pasta together but this looks like the recipe to try it with for me. I love everything in it! Also a pretty quick dinner option which I always love.

  29. I’ve always thought the same thing that it’s just too much starch. If you say it’s good I will give it a shot. The photo certainly looks great! I would like it with broccoli rabe too, I think.

  30. My Italian grandmother made risotto with potatoes and tons of percorino cheese.It was a starchy delicious and very heavy winter dish. It’s not that weird or new. :)

  31. I had the same “OMG that’s a lot of starch!” reaction the first time I came across potato pizza. It’s very popular in Florence: pizza crust, thin slices of potato, olive oil, rosemary, done. And it’s *amazing*.

    I’ll have to try something like this. Thanks!

  32. my only concern about this dish would be that I would be hungry again quickly.. without the added fiber from lots of veggies or a little meat or beans I think the carb-overload wouldn’t last me!

    looks yummy though.

  33. Do you recommend any cheese with this? Or, I guess, anything aside from Parmesan? Or should I just skip the cheese?

    1. Rachael — We didn’t put cheese on but that doesn’t mean that you might not like it better with it. See how it tastes, if you think it needs it.

  34. Bon Appetite had a recipe years ago that I still make all the time. I cant remember if the original salad was made with pasta or lettuces, but I always make it with penne and serve it cold. I tried to find it, but no luck. Im probably not even doing it like the original anymore, as I don’t have the recipe. If anyone can find it, its fantastic! I think it was in the RSVP section in the late 90’s.
    Potatoes sauteed with red onion, portobello mushrooms sauteed with garlic, asparagus, peppered turkey, penne and a sweet balsamic dressing. Smitten, you could probably do your thing and make it even better!

  35. we have an old family recipe that comes from the depression era and involves pasta, potatoes, eggs and butter that is a favorite, so I am always trying to put potatoes and pasta together anyway I can! will have to give this a try soon!

  36. Hi Deb,

    Mark Bitten had a similar recipe (sans pasta) which he called Green Potatoes. He said it was Italian. It was very simple and good. I think I will make your recipe tomorrow night. Thanks for the head up about the garlic and the cleaning technique and for all your work on the blog. I love it.

    Mary Ann

  37. Deb, This looks fantastic! I think you can have as much starch in the same dish as you wish, it’s all about portion control to stay healthy! You know what is also yummy, pasta with potatoes and TONS of caramelized onions. you cook the thin potato crescents with the onions, some thyme, some cinnamon stick, lid on for 30 min or so… a pound of cheese at the end: perfection!
    Thanks Deb,
    M

  38. I was a bit dubious when I saw the title of this post – but those pics have got me – I’m going to make this asap!

  39. girl, what’s all this multiple equipment action with the arugula-washing (bowl, colander, spinner)? my salad spinner does the whole job. put the rocket in the basket, fill the whole thing with water and slosh around like you said, but then just pick up the basket. Arugula in basket. Muddy water in bowl. Dump water, replace basket in spinner, dry leaves.

  40. i made this last night and it was delicious! i don’t think i used enough lemon, salt, or cracked pepper since it was on the bland side – the boy used parmesan and declared it delicious… and these greens really cook down so next time I will use more. I used half a pound of pasta instead of 3/4.

  41. Rachel — The basket touches the sandy sludge in the bottom and rattles it back into the basket, at least on my OXO one. I don’t like it.

  42. This looks wonderful. No reason not to put potatoes and pasta together – after all the Italians do it! There’s a regional dish from Liguria that has small pasta called trofie, green beans, and potatoes in fresh pesto. Yum.

  43. I love potato in my pizza and potato chips in my cookies, so why wouldn’t I love potato in my pasta? This dish looks and sounds totally delicious. Yummy!

  44. I’ve seen many dishes that combine potatoes and pasta in Italy. The key is really portion control. The Italians enjoy a little bit of this and a little bit of that – and stay nice and lean. This looks delicious – I’ll try soon!

  45. That looks delicious, though it seems like a hella lot of olive oil. And I think I’d prefer spinach to rocket. Definitely going on my dinner list for next week, though. :)

  46. I never had arugula until a couple of months ago when I got it in my CSA veggies. I wish that I had this recipe then since I had no idea what to do with it (I ended up making arugula pesto). I can hardly wait to try this since your pictures make it look delicious. I also make a pizza with potatoes which I call caldo de queso pizza. It has olive oil, potatoes, roasted green chiles, garlic, onions and cheese.

  47. For years my mother made “Noodles and Potatoes”. My absolute favorite dinner. This reminded so much of that recipe. We take potatoes, boil them then cut them up into small pieces. Fry up some onion in butter until brown then mix with sea shell noodles and the potatoes. Add more butter. Then the best part – mix in some Prune butter and stir it up. Yum! Obviously we don’t make it too often.

  48. My internet connection gave out before I could continue after the jump, but just the photo inspired my dinner last night: a warm salad of cipollini onion, fingerling potato, asparagus, fennel, baby bok choy, zucchini, rocket, and chicken-parmesan sausage. Thank you!

  49. I’ve been into sweet potatoes lately…would it be weird to use them in this dish? Hmm. Can’t decide…maybe kinda odd.

  50. rocket=arugula. learn somethng new every day. must be a regional term? this dish is kinda like a warm potato/mac salad—a nice vegetarian offering too.

  51. Did you know that there is a very old Swiss recipe used by the mountain farmers which combines also pasta with potato and onions – just without arugula. Great recipe!

  52. Great dish. Potato in pasta, just dunno how this idea didn’t occur to me. Yummy, it’s simply irresistible. I’m going to have this for my dinner. Thanks.

  53. I had to concur with another reader and add bacon. I wish I had added some parm or goat cheese or ricotta. But you know, if you add bacon to anything it is always better…

  54. I had never heard of pasta with potatoes before, and now this makes twice in one week that I’ve come across it! A friend sent me a link to a YouTube video series called Depression Era Cooking. A lovely 93 year old lady, Clara, demonstrates how to cook various dishes she remembers eating while growing up during the Great Depression – one of those dishes being pasta with potatoes and peas. It’s a great series – a cooking and history lesson all in one! Your dish is like the much-updated and modernized version of hers.

  55. This sounds great. I appreciate the arugula-washing method. I used to be lazy and buy the pre-washed, bagged variety, but now I get it in my CSA box all the time and it takes me forever to clean it.

  56. This dish is out of this world good!
    I made it for my family last night and even the kids loved it! I was a little “to” easy on the garlic and lemon and think next time I will go a little more generous with that. I will definitely make this dish again.. I think it might be good with some grated asiago on it or even feta might be good.

  57. Just made this dish this evening with a few additions. I sauteed sliced portobello mushrooms with the onion, my market didn’t have any rocket so I used baby spinach, also used the full compliment of garlic (5 or 6 cloves) zested the lemon, added that after wilting the garlic and spinach and also added a 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper. Topped dish with drizzle of olive oil and pecorino romano. So incredibly good and really easy. Love the pictures!

  58. ooh. this is similar to a traditional swiss recipe. aelplermagaronen or aelpler macaroni (macaroni of the alps). my mother used to make it when we were kids and we loved it. one variation is: pasta, potatoes, onion, garlic, bacon, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg. sometimes pasta and potatoes are cooked in milk. it’s finished off in the oven until golden brown. it’s usually served with apple sauce.

  59. Potatoes and pasta- it’s like a deconstructed gnocchi! I made it tonight and it was awesome. I used three garlic cloves. I’m in agreement that a little garlic goes a long way in this dish in terms of harmonizing with other flavours and letting them shine through (rosemary!). Next time, I’ll use one clove.

  60. I think pretty soon I”m going to have to plan a week of menus that are all off people’s blogs. There are so many recipes I see that I want to try, but then I have cookbook and magazine recipes calling my name as well. This recipe will be towards the top of my list when I actually cook some of the blog recipes I”m drooling over :)

  61. We made this and it was delicious! My notes were to use a small-medium sized pasta (I used a larger tubed pasta, thinking it would look nice, but penne would have been better) and to make the ratio 2:1 (pasta:potatoes). The potatoes had most of the flavor, so dont skimp on them. This is definitely a keeper! Thanks for the recipe.

  62. So, I commented before (#43) about how I was going to make this on Sunday. Well I made it for dinner last night and my husband and I loved it! It wasn’t heavy, but it wasn’t too light either. The flavors work so well together and our only comment was that it needed a little more lemon juice and some parmesan. Yum!

  63. Love that you call it rocket. I first found out what rocket it is years ago while on a trip to London. We had instituted a rule that if we didn’t know what a food was, we’d order it. (Hello, aubergines!) The rocket, however, came cleverly disguised in a salad full of other mixed greens. “Excuse me, waitress, could you please tell me which part of this is the rocket?” [in British accent, while pointing in the general direciton of the plate] “Umm, its right there.” “No, but where exactly?” Confused British waitress ended up picking up one of our forks and stabbing the piece of rocket for us to our delight (“AAHHH!! Its AR-U-GU-LA!”) then wandering off looking a little wild around the eyes about the strange American tourists.

  64. Oh. My. Head. Pasta, potatoes, rocket, onion, olive oil… This might just be my new favourite pasta dish. It is extremely filling, but on the plus side you don’t need to eat as much as a less starch-laden dish. Please note that I said you don’t NEED to. Not that you won’t want to.

  65. I made this with spinach instead of rocket and mixed in your baked tomato sauce and used balsamic instead of lemon (because I only had limes and oranges on hand!) and it was just amazing, everyone loved it! I would have NEVER put potatoes with pasta but this dish definitely changed my mind.

  66. Lisa, I too made this with spinach, and I added some sliced chicken on top for my carnivorous boyfriend. Perhaps I should have added balsamic and tomato sauce, because though the dish was delicious, it lacked a certain excitement.

    Ah well, it’s my fault for not using arugula or rosemary. Let the slight boringness of my dinner be a warning to others! :)

  67. The first time I ever saw the potato and pasta combo was in Florence, over several dishes of pesto. I managed to recreate it thus, and super-simply:

    1 lb tagliatelle
    4 med boiling potatoes
    1 lb haricôts verts
    Pesto (I eyeball it myself, but food-process basil, walnuts, parmigian, olive oil, and parsley)

    Chop the potatoes into cubes. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the fettuccine and potatoes, managing for cooking time. Add the green beans later on so it’s all done together. Throw it into a collander, then toss it up with pesto. Ecco!

    I can’t wait to try yours!

  68. Coming back a few days later to report that I loved this!! Even as I tossed it all together, I was a little skeptical of the pasta/potato combo, but it worked really well. I held back a bit on the olive oil and added some crumbled feta at the end, which I would definitely do again. (I also forgot to add rosemary but I think it was fine without.) Thank you for the inspiration!

  69. The pasta potato combination can be a beautiful thing! I live in Italian Switzerland (and subsist primarily off of pasta…) and one of the typical winter dishes in this area is pizzocheri, almost lavender colored buckwheat pasta with onion, soft potatoes, and amazing cheese. I love the stuff but have yet to perfect it myself. I will have to try this as a somewhat less wintry and heavy option.

  70. Oh wow. I just finished eating a bowl of this, and I am so pleased that I had to post a comment before I forgot (but how could I). I added portobellos and chicken breast marinated in balsamic vinaigrette. Consider me a convert to the pasta/potato camp. Perfect on this cold, rainy Sunday.

  71. We just made this – my friend Stephanie and I – and it was DELICIOUS. It was in fact, awesome and the only way I am not going upstairs to lick the bowl is by stopping to write this.

    We used Broccoli rabb and spinach as I misremembered rocket, and roasted the potatoes with the rosemary and put a little Israeli feta on top as well. So good. Thank you!

  72. When I first moved to Italy I was SHOCKED at all of the double-starch dishes. They seemed so wrong….but they tasted soooo good! Now I throw starches together all the time….and I haven’t gained an Kilo. Potato pizza is my favorite. This dish looks great!

  73. I made it today and it was a really nice way to enjoy a bowl of pasta. Thank you for the recipe! Did leave the rosemary out (didn’t have any left) and add some sweet cherry tomatoes. Yummy!

    I love to eat potatoes with pasta or rice and have never really understood why some people are always so afraid of carbs… Silly little folk – they will miss so many delicious moments ;)

  74. Diced potatoes (I like to roast them first and toss them in last minute) in bolognese is fantastic!! Something I picked up from a Korean friend of mine. =]

  75. I made this tonight even though I only had Russet potatoes on hand, and it still came out super-tasty! I suspect roasting these starchy potatoes to more of a medium-brown color bordering on potato-chip crispness helped them hold together after being added back into the moister rocket + pasta mix.

  76. I’ve made this recipe several times now; I love the reaction people get once they taste this delicious pasta!!! My favorite pasta dish since forever!

  77. I know this recipe was posted years ago, but I was wondering if you’d ever tried making it by boiling the potatoes with the pasta and then cube them to add back in to the pasta? I live in a rental with an awesome but frightening stove from the 1950’s and haven’t ever figured out how to get the oven to work. :(

  78. I haven’t made it by boiling the potatoes, but it definitely seems simpler, right? I see no reason not to. Keep them a little al dente so they don’t fall apart when they hit the saute pan.

  79. I have made this a few times, always really delicious. I add a bit more lemon than is recommended here; and I have used different kind of potatoes each time, always with good results. Just thought I’d mention that in case someone is looking at this recipe and wondering whether they absolutely need the potatoes specified here.

  80. Ah, I think I am the commenter above. I make this all the time and sometimes with kale instead of rocket. Tonight I put a lot more garlic and it was really delicious.

  81. My tweaks
    Husband was not digging the fresh mizuna in our CSA this week so I subbed mizuna for arugula. Used purple fingerlings and beet orecchiette . Had some left over wild mushrooms and added green olives and fig balsamic instead of lemon juice. Topped with freshly grated Parmesan . Delilah. Thanks as always Deb!

  82. Found this when looking for something with portobello mushrooms… Which I sautéed with the onions. Substituted kale for rocket. Wow!! So YUMMY. Also, the house smells delish. Happy meatless Monday!
    Jen