Lemon braised artichokes over pasta

  • For the lemon braised artichoke hearts
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 120ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsps finely chopped fresh thyme leaves, or Herbes de Napa, recipe follows
  • 1 1/2 tsps minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsps salt
  • Small pinch freshly ground pepper
  • 4 medium to large artichokes
  • 1/2 lemon
  • For the pasta
  • 450g fettuccine
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 tsps fresh oregano leaves
  • 120ml chicken stock
  • 200g spinach, stemmed, washed
  • Lemon braised artichoke hearts, recipe above
  • 4 tbsps Italian parsley leaves, chopped
  • 15g butter
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving
  • For the Herbes de Napa
  • 6 tbsps dried thyme leaves
  • 3 tbsps fennel seeds
  • 2 1/2 tbsps dried summer savory leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsps dried rosemary leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsps crumbled bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tbsps dried lavender flowers
Lemon braised artichoke hearts:

1) Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5.

2) Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium non-reactive saucepan. Mix well and set aside while preparing the artichokes.

3) Snap the outer leaves from an artichoke. Cut off the top half and then use a paring knife to trim down to the heart, rubbing cut surfaces with the lemon half as you work to avoid discolouration. Cut the heart in half and scrape out the choke with a spoon. Cut each piece in half again.

4) As each artichoke heart quarter is completed, immediately turn it in the marinade to coat completely. When all of the artichokes are trimmed, put the pan over high heat and bring to a boil.

5) Pour the artichokes and marinade into a baking dish (or cook them in the saucepan if it is ovenproof), cover with foil and cook until the artichokes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the cooking liquid.

Pasta:

1) Cook the fettuccine according to package directions.

2) While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic. When the garlic is golden, add the oregano and stock. Bring to a simmer then stir in the spinach to wilt. Add the artichokes.

3) Drain the pasta and place in a serving bowl. Pour over the artichoke mixture and toss with the parsley and butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.

Herbes de Napa:

Combine all of the ingredients. Store in an airtight container away from light and heat for up to 4 months.

Michael's notes: If preparing a larger number of artichokes, just increase the marinade proportionately.

Serve them as a starter salad on their own with their braising liquid. Make sure to have crusty bread on hand to sop up the juices. Slice or roughly chop the artichokes and scatter across a cheese pizza. Be sure to drizzle some of the braising liquid on the pizza as well. Roughly chop them and add to a risotto at the last minute just to heat through. Add some of the braising liquid, too, to flavour the risotto. Season a nice piece of fish with salt and pepper and place on top of the artichokes to cook with them for the last 10 to 15 minutes of their cooking time. Drizzle with olive oil just before serving.

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