Creamy artichoke pasta

I’m sure I’m not the only one who immediately springs for some form of pasta when I haven’t been shopping or even thought of what I might cook for dinner. On Friday I was a bit bored with my usual go-to pasta recipes and fancied something a bit different. This one, based on an original from World Wide Recipes, is very reminiscent of the simple vegetable-based sauces in Italy, and it ticks all the boxes:
– Uses store-cupboard ingredients. Check.
– The sauce is ready in less time than it takes to cook the pasta. Check.
– Both cheap and delicious. Check.

Oh, and vegetarian, if that floats your boat. Although if you are a confirmed carnivore you could add some ham if you wanted.

Like any good default dinner, this is very tolerant of substitutions and enhancements — I’ve suggested a couple below. This will make enough for two not-too-greedy people.

2 tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 shallot or half a small onion, finely chopped
a small jar of artichoke hearts — either the marinated antipasti sort, or plain ones in brine
herbs of your choice: fresh basil or dried oregano are both good
1 tsp pesto (optional — handy if you don’t have any suitable herbs)
about 50 ml ricotta or curd cheese. Or cream cheese, if that’s what you’ve got.
about 50 ml crème fraîche or sour cream
pasta of your choice
salt and black pepper
grated parmesan

Put the pasta on to boil for the required time. Heat the olive oil over moderate heat in a saute pan big enough to hold the cooked pasta, and cook the garlic and onion for a few minutes until soft. Cut the artichoke hearts into quarters and add to the pan. If they are the marinated sort, add some of the oil from the jar too. Otherwise, add a slosh of the pasta water to stop the sauce sticking. Add the herbs of your choice, and/or the pesto, stirring until heated through. Lower the heat to a whisper and stir in the soft cheese and cream until the sauce is smooth. If the sauce seems too thick, add a little more pasta water. Drain the pasta and add to the saute pan. Toss with the sauce, adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper, and serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

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