Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Artichoke and Mushroom Pasta

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.


  1. we don't have artichokes here, I've always wondered how it taste like.. I like your pasta recipe it's so healthy, lots of good stuff..yum!

  2. I just bought a HUGE artichoke on sale at whole foods and am probably going to stuff it. I'm kind of scared because it's the first artichoke i've ever prepared myself. Wish me luck!

    This pasta looks delicious. If I stumble upon some at the Greenmarket on Saturday, I am SO making this.

  3. LOL @ thesis vocabulary! I know what you mean. The results of this spaghetti dish look significant. My hypothesis that this dish is delicious must by confirmed in the near future. LOL! I don't make any sense either. I'll give up.

    I love the color of the pasta. Beautiful!

  4. wow che piatto invitante! complimenti!

  5. Hi Ms. Meanie, I hate it when my camera battery dies, especially in the middle of photographing something for my blog.
    These artichokes are tantalizing. Is that a good enough 'vocabulary' word (smile)? And the pasta looks yum, but I'm wondering how you got the chokes from whole to those pretty cylinders??? Me wants to know!

  6. bummer--i love balloon animals! :)
    this is an awesome dish--classy yet doable and delicious!

  7. I've always had the same fear of artichokes... maybe since you overcame yours i can do the same. i wanted to can some, there is a recipe in eugenia bone's book i kept looking at last year and didn't get to do. thanks for the artichoke inspiration!

  8. Olive, I'm sorry you don't have artichokes there! Maybe you can find canned artichokes? They are also very good.

    Joanne - hmm..stuffed artichokes sound good too. I hope the Greenmarket has some.

    Memória - Hah! I literally cracked up when I read your comment. Yes "spaghetti looks significant, cake shows improvement" basically sums up my vocab right now.

    Federica - Grazie mille!

    Stella - I cut the artichokes into quarters so they look cylindrical, but they're really not. Tantalizing is a great word. Better put that on my list before I forget. :)

    Grace - No worries, there will soon be a farmer's market post with lots of balloon animal photos (hopefully).

    innBrooklyn - Yes, you can get over the fear too. Super easy.

  9. Usually, it is the prep of artichokes (rinsing, how to remove the outer leaves etc etc) that deters me from buying fresh ones and cooking them.

  10. Yeah, I looooove artichokes, but I rarely make them fresh because of the prep. I should probably get over that, though - it doesn't really take that long. By the way, did you know the stems are good? I mean you probably want to trim them but they're a lot like the heart.

  11. I have always been intimidated by fresh artichokes, the way you cut them is perfect!!

  12. Aww, but there's always next week right? I once took my camera to the markets but was too shy to take pics. I've used fresh artichokes a few times before but I have to admit I'm not a fan of that strong, almost chemical, aftertaste (maybe it doesn't affect everyone the same way or maybe I'm just prepping it wrong). The pasta looks very healthy (and yummy).

  13. I just had artichokes last night. I love 'em. What a great recipe this is! The mushrooms look lovely and caramelized too. I love how dark it all turns out...going to try this soon.

  14. Urgh, camera troubles kill me. But at least you got comforted with this super amazing pasta. Oh wow. LOVE how you used artichokes here, and to pair it with awesome mushrooms...Yum!

  15. I have to admit I've never cooked with fresh artichokes Glad to know it's that simple. The pasta looks delicious.

  16. If I were a carrot or a red pepper, I would so want to marry an artichoke! Beautiful pictures!

  17. Just wanted to let you know that after reading this, I did go out and buy fresh artichokes and make them for dinner. Thanks for the inspiration!