Monday, January 26, 2009

Penne with Artichoke Hearts

It seems simplicity is the latest theme in my life. Not for me a vegan life of fake meats and soy cheeses. Why would I even have to eat those types of food when I live in a grossly abundant country full of amazing fruits and vegetables? I have been on an artichoke kick lately, as we can still find them in the market, but I have also discovered that frozen artichoke hearts are delicious, and can supply me with artichoke hearts when they are not in season. As they are frozen when they are at their freshest, they taste sublime.

INGREDIENTS for 2 people(you will probably laugh at how few you need!)

400 to 500g package of Penne or Fusilli pasta (you can use more or less pasta depending on how much artichoke you want in each dish)

1 450g. package of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed

5 TBSP of olive oil

splash of white wine

1/4 tsp of coarse sea salt

1/4 cup water


Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil, add salt to boiling water and add pasta of choice, cook until al dente. While pasta is cooking (about 8-10 minutes) in a deep non-stick pan, pour olive oil and splash of wine and throw in the garlic cloves. Simmer at medium heat for about 1 to 2 minutes, then add the artichokes and 1/4 cup of water, and sautée until pasta is ready. Drain pasta and pout it into the pan, and mix everything together, then turn off heat. Serve in deep pasta bowls. See? I told you it was simple!! If you don't want pasta, you can easily serve the artichokes as a vegetable dish or side.

Penne with Sun-dried Tomato and Almond Pesto

This is one of the easiest meals I have made. I just gathered all of the ingredients and threw them in the food processor, and it was done. It will take more time to cook your pasta than it takes to make this pesto.
I made mine for 4 people, and also I want to mention that if you want a less salty taste, you don't have to add any salt because the marinated sun-dried tomatoes are already pretty salty. What makes this pesto different from regular pesto is the exclusion of any cheese. The tomatoes are so savory and delicious, there is no need.
Package of your favorite Penne
3/4 cup of marinated sun-dried tomatoes. You can use the jarred variety, but you should be able to find these at any Italian deli.
1/4 cup of peeled almonds. It is very important they are peeled. If not the pesto will turn out gritty
handful of fresh basil leaves
1-2 large cloves of garlic(to taste, some people like food to be very garlicky)
1/4 tsp of course salt (to taste) I use Himalayan salt.
2 TBSP of olive oil
1/4 cup of water (this will encourage better mixing in the food processor
1 TBSP course salt for boiled water
In a large pot bring water to a boil and add 1 TBSP of salt. Throw in entire package of penne. While the pasta is boiling, put all ingredients listed in a food processor. Start with the sun-driedtomatoes and end with the water. Use high speed on food processor and process sauce until it is fine. You want to make sure that the tomato skins are well blended. Taste with a spoon and decide if you need more salt or not. If the sauce is not smooth enough add a bit more water, OR you can add some of the marinade from the tomatoes.
When Penne is al dente drain well, and then put back in same pot. Pour pesto over the pasta and stir well to mix sauce with pasta. Serve pasta in bowls and and garnish with fresh basil.
Pairs nicely with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc