Meatless Monday Spaghetti with Artichoke Sauce

I hadn’t really intended to make artichoke pasta last week; in fact, I was in the middle of making Michael Chiarellos’ artichoke pesto crostini when I found myself making a sharp U turn (cue the screeching tires).  This pesto looked way too good for a crostini topping.

Now, those of you familiar with my predilections will not be at all surprised to hear that we ended up eating pasta with artichoke sauce that night.  I mean, I’m sure the crostini would have been quite good, but it’s just how my mind works, and I make no apologies for it.

So what makes this pesto rather special is the braising (he calls it roasting) of the artichokes with garlic, lemon, olive oil, thyme and bay, which infuses them with really lovely flavor.  The rest of the recipe behaves like any other pesto recipe, meaning it’s very simple indeed.

We loved this ever so much just as it was, but next time (and there will be a next time), I think I’ll stir a little goat cheese into the pesto before I mix it with the pasta just to add a bit of creaminess to the sauce.

But really, folks, this is just heavenly stuff, and I’m oh so happy to have veered off course that night.  As I said, I’m pretty sure that this pesto would be great on crostini, but there weren’t any leftovers to actually test that out.  I might give that a try soon, but it’s just as likely it would end up on pasta again.

Spaghetti with Roasted Artichoke Sauce

Click here for a printable recipe

Serves 4
Recipe adapted from Michael Chiarello

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tblsp fresh lemon juice
1 large or 2 medium cloves garlic, sliced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 can of artichoke hearts
A good handful of fresh basil or parsley leaves
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2-3 oz of goat cheese (optional)
1 lb. spaghetti

In a medium saute pan, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the lemon juice, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Add the artichokes and mix to coat. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat, cover tightly and simmer for about 20 minutes or so.  Allow the artichokes to cool in the liquid.

Meanwhile cook the spaghetti for 1 minute less than the pkg directions in salted water and drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid.

When the artichokes have cooled, remove the bay leaf and put them with the liquid into a blender.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the toasted pine nuts and basil or parsley leaves and process until smooth.   Stir in the parmesan cheese and goat cheese (if using).  Taste for salt and pepper.

Return the artichoke sauce back to the pan (or a large serving bowl) and add the cooked spaghetti.  Mix well, adding a some of the pasta cooking water if needed to thin the sauce.

To serve, sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil or parsley.

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