Monday, May 21, 2012

There's Nothing Funny About an Artichoke

When I made my first foray into the blogosphere, my intention was to write witty and pithy observations about food, life, and whatnot and to provide a tasty little recipe as an accompaniment.

At times I was successful.  Other times...not so much.

Today, as I attempt to wax poetical on the artichoke, I realize that there is nothing neither witty nor pithy to say about them.  So I Googled "artichoke jokes".

"A guy walks into the doctor's office. 
A banana stuck in one of his ears, an artichoke in the other ear, and a carrot stuck in one nostril. 
The man says, 'Doc, this is terrible. What's wrong with me?'
The doctor says, 'Well, first of all, you need to eat more sensibly.'"
That's the best they could do.
And then, using the researching skills cultivated from my former high school students, I turned to Wikipedia.  And found out that artichokes are indeed no laughing matter.  They aid digestion, strengthen liver and gall bladder function, and raise the HDL/LDL ratio which reduces cholesterol levels, diminishing the risk for arteriosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
Don't mess with the artichoke.

So the next time someone asks you, "Where does an artichoke go to have a few drinks?"  Do not respond with, "The salad bar."  

Simply reply, "There is nothing funny about an artichoke."

Penne with Lemony Artichoke Sauce

I actually like this better without the cheese, but it makes for a pretty picture!
This quick and easy sauce is perfect for a tasty meal in minutes!  Feel free to play around with other ingredients, like tomatoes or spinach, but I do like the bright simplicity of just the lemon and artichokes.

1 14.5 oz can of artichoke hearts (rinsed, drained, and quartered)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 Tbl olive oil
1/2 cup shallots, sliced (one medium shallot)
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 bay leaves
Thyme bundle
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
pinch of salt
and a whole lotta black pepper
1 lb whole wheat penne
Prepare the pasta according to the directions on the package in salted water, cooking it slightly under the suggested time.
In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and add the shallots sliced into rings.  Season with a little salt and saute for about three minutes.  Add garlic, thyme, and bay leaves, and cook for another couple of minutes careful not to burn the garlic.  Once the shallots are tender, add artichoke hearts, lemon zest and juice.  Reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.  Remove thyme and bay, and add penne directly into the sauce.  Sprinkle in parsley, and toss to coat.  If desired, add pasta water to "stretch" the sauce. 

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