This post was supposed to contain a lovely display of photos from my local farmer's market. Photos of the dozens of colorful produce stands, appetizing baked goods, fresh cheeses, and local wines. Photos of the energetic bands performing, the happy food vendors, the strangely-dressed man making balloon animals, and the tons of smiling families enjoying their Saturday morning. See, last weekend I had this great idea of bringing my camera to the farmers market to take a bunch of photos and post them on this site. Instead, my morning went like this: Spend 30 minutes safely packing camera for bike ride to market, arrive at market, unpack camera, point, focus, click. Nothing. Camera. Battery. Dead. Oof.
So although I can't share photos of the Farmer's Market, I can share photos of a pasta - made with ingredients from the farmer's market. That's almost the same, right?
As much as I love all things artichoke, I've always had a lingering fear of using fresh artichokes. Maybe it's their thorns or their shell-like exterior, or their hefty price tag, but something always scared me away.
But I've now discovered that there's no reason to be afraid - fresh artichokes are super simple to prepare. And although I'm in no way surrendering my lovely canned and frozen artichokes, I do love how fresh artichokes taste so, well...fresh.
Sorry, I think all this thesis writing has erased my culinary vocabulary. All I can think of are words like 'methods', 'results', 'significant'. And "I love how fresh artichokes taste so significant" just doesn't sound right to me.
For this pasta, I used about a pound of baby artichokes, which are much better suited for pasta-type dishes since the entire leaf can be eaten. Preparation is simple: rinse the artichokes, cut off the stems, and remove the outer (tougher) leaves. Ideally, you should keep the cut artichokes in a bowl of lemon water to prevent browning. As you can see, I forgot this step, hence the already browning artichokes.
There are many ways to cook the artichokes. They can be boiled, grilled, sauteed, baked, or steamed. I steamed mine before adding them to this pasta.
Artichoke and Mushroom Pasta
*1/2 lb linguine, fettuccine, spaghetti, or other pasta (I used whole wheat spaghetti)
*2 Tbsp olive oil
*1 shallot, minced
*1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, chopped
*3 Tbsp prepared basil pesto (I used this recipe)
*1 cup frozen peas
*1 lb baby artichokes, quartered
*salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Cook pasta as directed on package. Keep it slightly al dente since it will cook a bit more with the other ingredients.
2. In a large pan, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots and cook until slightly translucent (1-2 minutes).
3. Add the mushrooms and cook until slightly softened.
4. Add the pasta, pesto, peas, and artichokes, and gently (tongs are great for this) toss everything together. Add salt and pepper to taste.