Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sinless Pasta with Artichokes, Asparagus, and Black Olives

Every now and then, I stumble on an ingredient that makes me believe that if push came to shove, I could survive as a vegetarian. I know mushrooms are the poster child for this (as the closest vegetable to meat in spirit) but for me it's the artichoke. Talk about meaty and intense and lusty, I feel sinful even thinking about them.

And while I love the idea of preparing fresh artichokes - buying them from the farmer's market, trimming them, then cooking them low and slow with all sorts of goodies stuffed between the leaves like Pancetta and cheese - I don't ever see myself actually doing this. I'm too lazy. Besides, a home cook has to leave some things up to restaurants. Otherwise we'd never leave the kitchen.

If for some reason you have any prejudices against this beloved, hideous vegetable, I urge you to buy the hearts marinated in seasoned olive oil. All the peeling and cooking and seasoning and stressing has already been done for you leaving behind just the meaty, luscious hearts soaking in the aromatic oil. Naughty.

I like to keep the leftover oil in my fridge (after I've used up the hearts) to drizzle over toasted crostini for appetizers with a little parmesan cheese. But that my dear, is another post.

Sinless Pasta with Artichokes, Asparagus, and Black Olives

12 oz quartered artichokes hearts (from 12 oz jar that have been marinate in oil) drained (I am partial to Haddon House brand)
Sliced black olives, from a 2.2 oz jar, drained
1/2 cup parmesan
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

16 oz fresh short pasta, such as spirals or rigatoni
handful kosher or sea salt
1 bunch asparagus, woody stems removed and cut inti 1 inch pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil from the jar of artichokes
2.5 oz goat cheese
4 chives, snipped/minced fine
pinch sea salt
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (toasted in a 325 oven for 6-8 minutes just until golden)

Add the quartered artichoke hearts, olives, parmesan, and red pepper flakes to a large serving bowl or pot. Toss well and set aside.

Put a large pot of water over high heat. Once boiling, add a handful of salt to it, let it return to a boil, then add the pasta and boil for three minutes (if your pasta is dried instead of fresh, cook for five.) Add the chopped asparagus to the boiling water and cook together with the pasta another 3-4 minutes, just until the pasta is al dente and the asparagus has turned a bright green.

Drain and add the pasta and asparagus to the artichoke mixture. Toss then add in the oil and goat cheese tossing again. Add in the fresh chives, salt, and pine nuts giving one last toss. Serve hot.

1 comment:

Blackberry Jam Cafe said...

Found you by way of Cinnamon and Spice - love your outlook on food snobs! I'm now following - stop by and see me when you get a minute!