I love artichokes. I get a huge kick out of seeing their symmetrical little shapes all stacked up at the market this time of year. Growing up in California, I gorged myself on them… and I burned the roof of my mouth more times than I can count because I can never wait for them to cool down before digging in.
Until recently, I would order fresh artichoke dishes in restaurants, but I would never prepare them at home. They just seemed like too much work, and canned artichoke hearts are pretty fantastic. But it’s artichoke season, and we keep getting beautiful artichokes in our CSA basket. I am racked with guilt every time I neglect them and they go bad, so I started playing around with this pasta.
The ingredients are simple, but they complement each other so well. The artichokes are earthy and buttery, and the lemon adds a touch of brightness. And cream and Parmesan are always a good idea; use just a little for a lighter dish, or be heavy-handed for a decadent, creamy sauce.
To be clear, you can make this pasta with canned artichoke hearts, and it will be delicious. But if you have some in-season artichokes just begging to be used… well, here’s you go.
Lemony Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts
- Olive oil
- 3-4 T. butter
- 8 oz./226 g dried spaghetti
- Zest of 2-3 lemons
- 2 T. lemon juice (plus more for cooking artichokes)
- Generous splash of cream
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- 6-8 whole artichokes (or 1 can artichoke hearts)
- Cook artichokes. If using whole, fresh artichokes, roast them with garlic, salt, olive oil and lemon juice according to this recipe. If using canned artichoke hearts, rinse and drain them. Sauté the hearts with 1 T. of butter, a spoonful of minced garlic and a splash of lemon juice. Roughly chop and set aside.
- Boil a large pot of salted water. Cook pasta until just shy of al dente.
- Meanwhile, melt 3 T. butter in a large skillet. Add lemon zest and cook for a couple minutes. Pour in cream. Use tongs to add the cooked pasta, lemon juice, artichokes and Parmesan. Toss, adding a few spoonfuls of pasta water to thin the sauce if needed.
- Season with salt and pepper, and a splash of olive oil. Serve with additional Parmesan and lemon zest on the side.
We hosted our first big EatWith event last night and had an absolute blast. We had more than 20 guests, and it was such a great mix of interesting, cool people from all over.
Brian made his amazing slow-cooked BBQ pork, setting up the grill on our wee balcony and tending to it lovingly all day. We also made crudité, tzatziki, bulgar salad, coleslaw, bourbon-chipotle BBQ sauce and a new version of mac and cheese we’re experimenting with.
True to my American roots, I love mac and cheese in all its forms, and I’m always looking for my new favorite recipe. This one turned out really well. A few people asked for the recipe, so here it is! You can be flexible with the kinds of cheese you use – feel free to play around with combinations and see what you like. I’m not sure there’s a wrong way to make delicious cheese sauce.
- 4 cups dried macaroni (about 400 g)
- 5 tablespoons butter (about 70 g)
- 5-8 tablespoons flour
- 2 - 2 1/2 cups whole milk (500-750 ml)
- 2 teaspoons dry ground mustard
- 1 1/3 lb. cheese, grated (about 600 g) - I used aged white cheddar, Grana and a semi-curado Spanish cheese that reminded me of Monterey Jack
- 1 egg, beaten
- 6 yellow onions, sliced thinly
- Panko bread crumbs
- Grated black truffle (optional)
- Salt, pepper, other spices/herbs to taste
- Olive oil
- Extra butter
- Heat a small amount of olive oil and butter in a non-stick pan on medium-low.
- Add sliced onions and cook until golden brown and caramelized, stirring frequently, about 30-40 minutes. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding a generous handful of sea salt.
- Cook macaroni for a few minutes less than the cook time on the package (it should be too firm to eat, not yet al dente). Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta water is boiling, melt 5 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan on medium-low heat.
- Add 5 tablespoons of flour, whisking constantly to remove lumps and to keep from burning. The consistency should be a slightly thickened liquid (I added a few more tablespoons of flour here to make a bit more dense). Cook for 5 minutes, whisking constantly.
- Stir in milk and dry mustard slowly. Cook for 5-10 minutes on low heat, stirring often.
- Add a small cup of the sauce to the bowl holding the beaten egg, whisking constantly.(This is called tempering and gradually raises the temperature of the egg without scrambling it.)
- Mix in cheese, reserving a small amount of Grana for the topping. The consistency should be thick and creamy.
- Taste sauce and add salt, pepper and other spices or herbs to taste.
- In a small pan, toast a few generous handfuls of panko breadcrumbs in a little butter for a few minutes.
- Add macaroni and caramelized onions to cheese sauce and mix well.
- Transfer mac and cheese to a casserole dish. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture and leftover Grana on top.
- Bake at 375 degrees F/ 190 degrees C for 20-25 minutes, until the topping is golden brown.
- Sprinkle a little grated black truffle on top if you're feeling extra fancy.