Maria's Artichoke, Parmesan Pasta

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I seriously love artichokes although they are a bit of a bother to peel and sort out.  My favourite way is usually by boiling them whole for 25 minutes depending on the size and then breaking off the leaves while dipping them into a lemon mayonnaise.  This pasta is even better because is it quicker to prepare than that!  In the time it takes to boil the pasta you can make the sauce, put the telly on and pour yourself a glass of wine.  I had a similar tapenade on canapés at my Spanish mate Maria’s wine tasting night a little while ago and I have been since thinking about when to make my own version.  This uses few ingredients so try and find a nice quality jar of artichokes to max out the flavour.

Vegetarian

Serves 2

Ingredients:

200g of jarred artichoke hearts in olive oil (save some of the olive oil for cooking)

100g parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 a large garlic clove, mashed into a paste 

Zest of half a lemon and 1 tbsp juice

1 rosemary sprig, separate the leaves

160g dried spaghetti

Sea salt and black pepper

Set a large saucepan of water to boil and add a good pinch of salt to the water.  Once boiling, add the pasta to cook following the packet’s instructions.

While this cooks, add the artichokes, parmesan, half of the garlic paste, lemon zest and juice into a blender and pulse blend.  I like a cross between a smooth and rough texture.  Taste the paste and then add in salt and pepper and pulse blend to mix.  Taste again and add in a little more garlic, salt, pepper if needed.  When the pasta is almost ready, set a large frying pan to a medium to high heat and add a table spoon of olive oil and swirl around the pan.  Add the rosemary leaves and fry them for about a 1 minute to crisp up.  Then use tongs to fish out the pasta straight from the hot water and into the frying pan along with some of the starchy cooking water and a few large spoonfuls of the artichoke sauce.  Mix everything around and add a little more cooking water to loosen the artichoke sauce.  Taste pasta again and then serve straight away with a last grating of parmesan.  Any leftover sauce can me served on toast or for crisp dipping for another day and keeps well for about 3 days in the fridge.

Nina Parker