Monday, March 16, 2009

Fresh Pasta with Baby Artichokes

Sometime in the past couple of weeks, I started craving artichokes, fresh artichokes. My mouth started watering while I was reading the latest Saveur. It offered twelve different artichoke dishes and before I knew it, I picked up a dozen baby chokes at the market.
While thinking of what dish the cute little artichokes would find their final resting place, I took off on Rt. 2, heading west for a client meeting. I was in luck! My clients' exit was also the exit for Idylwilde Farms. This is where I would find my inspiration.

Subtle hints of the spring welcomed me into the store with colorful flowers lining the entrance way. After doing some quick browsing, my eyes fell upon some fresh pasta in the refrigerator section. "Okay, that will do", I thought. Dinner was done! I grabbed some leeks, creminis, garlic and lemon and headed home.

Prepping artichokes may sound scary and hard, but especially with the smaller ones, it's quite easy. There are actually nine different varieties of artichokes, many holding an aubergine hue on their leaves. I rarely see those around here. Most of what's in the markets are globe artichokes and their babies, which is what I had.

To prep, get some acidulated water ready and then just peel back the leaves until you reach the pale green center. Chop off the top third, trim the stem, and toss them into the water. There! You're done! I simmered the hearts with some black peppercorns and a bay leaf, as well as a bunch of lemons. Because they were so small, par cooking them doesn't take long at all. You're welcome to cook them all the way here, but I wanted to get a nice sear of them for my pasta dish.

Meanwhile, I sauteed the leeks, garlic and mushrooms together and put them aside. Then, after draining the hearts, I quickly sauteed them and added them to the rest of the vegetables.

The fresh pasta took about 1 1/2 minutes to cook and as soon as I pulled it out, I added it to the vegetable mix along with some of the pasta water. Voila! Dinner is served! I small shaving of Parmesan cheese or lemon zest on top is an added level of ecstasy.


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