Remember the discussion we were having here recently about arugula (rucola, rocket), the bitter Italian salad green with the funky flavor? Well, it's coming on strong in our garden now -- one advantage of this cool spring is that it has vastly extended lettuce season -- prompting me to look for ways to go beyond salad to use it as a green vegetable.

One simple expedient (also exportable to other greens and veggies) is to use it as a quick, no-work pasta topping.

It's as simple as this: Start spaghetti (or your pasta of choice) boiling, and while it's cooking, take a good-size bunch of arugula and chop it coarsely with a chef's knife. The amount is not at all critical, but I try to get at least 1 or 1 1/2 cups of chopped greens to serve two.

Put the chopped greens in a bowl, add black pepper and salt to taste, and stir in about 1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano. (The cheese is salty, so be careful about not using too much extra salt.)

When the pasta is done, drain it, pour it back into the pot, and stir in the greens-and-cheese mixture with 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil. As soon as the butter and cheese melts, dump it into bowls and serve.

This is one of those veggie meals that goes unexpectedly well with white or even red wine; something about the strong, bitter flavor of the greens actually stands up to red wine, a rare thing for a lettuce to do.