Artichokes are such a great canned item to keep in your pantry. I love a fresh steamed artichoke, a little lemon aioli to dip the leaves into, but canned artichokes in general are such an awesome product since getting to the heart of a fresh artichoke is simply a pain in the ass. I have dreams of my first true experience with Roman artichokes at Piperno in the Jewish Quarter of Rome where the artichokes hearts are deep-fried. I chose to roast the artichokes instead in trying to keep this vegetarian pasta dish as light as possible.
SHOPPING LIST: 2 cans artichoke hearts, penne pasta, pesto sauce, olive oil, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon zest
The first step is to strain your artichokes. I used the CENTO brand artichoke hearts, 8-10 count per can. I let the artichokes strain for at least 10 minutes, and then I covered my cutting board in paper towels, and attempted to dry the artichokes even further – this is important if you want them to ROAST properly. Once they were dry, I sliced each artichoke in half. I tossed the halved artichokes hearts in olive oil and seasoned them heavily with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Roast the artichokes in a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, flipping the artichokes halfway, to make sure that both sides brown evenly.
For the pasta, I used Cora Bella Green Pea Penne – I knew I was going to use pesto with this dish so I thought it would be pretty to keep the green theme going and I just found this brand in my local supermarket. Anytime I use a vegetable-based pasta, I ALWAYS under-cook it. I think that’s the key to keeping it al dente and enjoyable – once it gets too soft and mushy it’s a total bust. As always, I added a drop of olive oil and some salt to my boiling water and cooked the entire box of green pea penne until it still had a very discernible bite. Once I strained the pasta, I reserved a bit of the cooking liquid in a cup.
To put it all together, heat 1 tB. of olive oil with 1 tsp. of chopped garlic over medium-high heat in a saucepan. When your garlic starts getting some color, add your artichokes to re-heat them. Add 3 heaping tB. of your pesto sauce of choice and 1 tB. of your cooking liquid so the pesto thins out a bit. Mix well and then re-add your strained penne pasta. Give a quick toss and serve immediately. Finish with lots of fresh lemon zest!