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Art of the ’choke: Supermarket freezer case unlocks key to weeknight rendering
By Joe Gray, Chicago Tribune
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Fresh artichokes are one of my favorite foods, and yet I find myself passing them by at the grocery store, having thought about the work in cleaning them and decided against it. Even baby artichokes require trimming and peeling, then a long cook time. Too much for a weeknight.
This is a time when a good frozen product comes in handy, and I’ve found frozen artichokes to have good texture and flavor. Plus, they’re already trimmed, cooked and even quartered, requiring just a few minutes more heat to get them ready, especially if you pop them in the microwave.
Here they ground a pasta dish, made with shells to mimic the shape of the baby ’chokes. Lemon zest brightens their flavor while a little cream adds richness.
PASTA SHELLS WITH ARTICHOKES
Prep: 15 minutes / Cook: 20 minutes / Makes: 4 servings
1 pound medium pasta shells (conchiglie)
1 package (1 pound) frozen baby artichokes or artichoke hearts or 2 packages (9 ounces each)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 to 4 tablespoons cream
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup brine-cured green olives (not canned or jarred), quartered
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
Cook the pasta in a large pot of well-salted boiling water over high heat until al dente. Meanwhile, thaw the artichokes in the microwave according to package directions. (It is OK if the artichokes are not completely thawed; they will continue to cook in the skillet.)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, but don’t allow to brown or burn, 1 minute. Add the artichokes; season with the salt. Cook to warm through. Stir in the wine; reduce the heat to medium. Allow to reduce slightly. Stir in 2 to 4 tablespoons cream, as you like; cook to thicken slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley, olives and lemon zest.
Drain the pasta; return to the pot. Toss the artichokes, sauce and Romano cheese with the pasta. Serve, passing more grated Romano at the table. Nutrition information per serving: 641 calories, 18 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 19 mg cholesterol, 97 g carbohydrates, 23 g protein, 646 mg sodium, 10 g fiber
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