Monday, April 5, 2010

Pasta with Artichokes and Tomatoes

Most of what I cook is very simple.  Probably, all of it is. I've always cared about and been interested in cooking, but about 5 years ago, I started trying to get better at it.  Deliberately better.  I started being more patient, taking more time, being more thoughtful about the process.  I stopped trying to make any recipe that sounded good in a cookbook (generally with ridiculous results) and started thinking about how to make simple, every day food as well as I possibly could.  This is one of the dishes that I make frequently and that Kid Cayenne and I enjoy a lot.  It is incredibly simple.


Serves 2-3 as a main dish, 4 as a side

1/2 pound hearty pasta like bowtie, penne or fusili (use a nice pasta like DeCecco for even happier results)
2 TB olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can artichoke hearts (preferably in water, not marinade), drained and cut in halves or quarters
1/2 c dry white wine (I use Sauvignon Blanc)
15-16 grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
5-6 leaves of basil, chiffonaded (cut into strips)
about 1/4 c Parmesan Reggiano and a bit more for topping
salt and pepper to taste

Set your pasta water to boil while you mince your shallot and garlic and halve your artichoke hearts.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat until it just begins to shimmer,  Add shallots and cook gently until they are transparent.  Add garlic and cook with the shallots for about a minute.

Meanwhile, add your pasta to the salted, boiling water and set your timer for however long the package says they should cook.  This is generally about 12 minutes and will be just about how long you need to finish cooking the artichokes and tomatoes.

Back to your skillet of shallot and garlic.  Add drained artichoke hearts and stir gently to combine.  Add a pinch of kosher salt.  Let them cook without poking at them too often.  You want the sugars in the shallots and garlic to release, getting a little sticky and turning golden.  Let the artichoke hearts get plenty of contact with the pan.  Turn them now and then, but if you aren't seeing the reaction you want, turn less.  Cut your tomatoes and basil while you're waiting.

After about 4-5 minutes of cooking, you should start seeing the artichokes start breaking down and the onion and shallots caramelizing and sticking a bit to the bottom of the pan.  Add white wine and stir a bit to loosen everything up.  Let it cook down and absorb.  Add tomatoes and lightly stir in.  The tomatoes will release a little juice into the dish.  You want them to cook for a couple of minutes to get warm but not long enough to completely break down.  Lower your heat a bit if there is too much cooking happening.

Your pasta should be just about finished.  Add a 2-3TB of the boiling pasta water to the pan of artichokes and tomatoes and stir to release all the flavor from the pan.  Stir in grated Parmesan.  Drain the pasta and add it to directly to your skillet of vegetables.  Mix together and then season with salt and pepper.  Add most (but not all) of your basil  (leave a little to garnish at the end).  Add more Parmesan and basil once the pasta is plated.

2 comments:

Kid Cayenne,  April 5, 2010 at 6:50 PM  

I do love this dish. Your thoughtfulness about food and cooking have really amazed me over the years. Your meals are the best home cooked meals I’ve ever had. Seriously! I am the luckiest.

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