Man, just when I start to think that I could get pretty good at this cooking thing, I have one of those days that serves as a MAJOR reality check! I bought some baby artichokes the other day at Trader Joe's and I was so excited to make a scrumptious and healthy pasta dish with them. "Hey!" I thought, "I'll even post a little how-to on my blog for preparing fresh artichokes for pasta!" Yeah Right! Apparently I am definitely not at the point where I am skilled in enough to show others how to cook! Anyway, this is (when cooked correctly) a very good and very healthy dish so I decided to post it anyway. Hey it was a learning experience! And nobody is perfect right?
First, a lesson on how to prepare fresh artichoke (or rather as I now know, fresh artichoke HEARTS) for pasta.
These are baby artichokes, about a third the size of normal artichokes, they are really good in pasta.
The first thing you want to do is remove the outer leaves. This was where my biggest screw up was. I didn't remove enough of the outer leaves. So the artichokes in my pasta were tough, and chewy, and really hard to eat. So when you are doing this make sure you remove all of the thick outer leaves until you reach the thinner inner leaves, the leaves that are part of the heart of the artichoke.
Trim off the stem...
and the tips of the artichokes. I usually do this part to all of the artichokes at the same time, then once I am done with trimming the leaves, stem, and tips of all artichokes...
I take each individual artichoke, quarter it...
remove the core...
and place it in a bowl of water with a bit of lemon juice. This prevents the artichoke hearts from browning too much. You have to be fast because as soon as you cut into the artichoke it starts browning immediately.
Place them in a pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes until fork tender.
To make the rest of this pasta dish you need: pasta, chicken, parsley, garlic, parmesan cheese, butter, olive oil, a lemon, salt, and pepper.
Shave some of the rind off of the lemon, set aside.
Squeeze the lemon juice from the lemon, set aside.
Add your pasta to your boiling water.
Add about a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil to your pan. My pan was too hot so the butter started to burn while I was trying to take pictures!
So I frantically added the garlic....still burning!
and the artichoke hearts, gave it a quick toss...
and added the diced chicken.
Then I added the lemon rind and some red pepper flakes ( I decided to add these last minute!)
Then stirred until chicken was fully cooked.
Then the artichoke and chicken got tossed into a bowl along with the pasta, some chopped parsley, and a whole heap full of parmesan cheese.
I tossed it around a bit....and dinner was served (albeit not a very good one!)
Then while the pasta cooled a bit....a bit too much actually...I frantically tried to clean up the absolute disaster I had made of my kitchen while making this dish!