Thursday, October 18, 2012

Venetian Artichoke Pesto

A lot of my food inspiration comes from the places I've been — namely, Italy. Spending four glorious months there changed my life intellectually, spiritually, and of course, gastronomically.

Early on in our study abroad experience, Justin and I made the trip to Venice. You can't go to Italy for a length of time and not see Venice. It's hauntingly beautiful, full of strange and wonderful nooks and crannies and crooked cobbled streets. The canals are beautiful, of course, but what struck us the most was the fog that settled over the ancient port town like a veil.

Yep, we fed the pigeons. They are terrifyingly unafraid of humans.

One of the single best things I ate in Italy was an artichoke pesto penne that we had in the old Jewish ghetto in Venice.

This was a close second to an otherworldly eggplant parmesan that I had a tiny waterside restaurant called Timon — but I'm still trying to figure out that recipe. So you'll have to make do with artichoke pesto. For now.

This recipe is the closest I could get to the pasta I had in Venice. Smooth, creamy, and somehow still bright and light. The best thing is, this recipe is super duper easy — no peeling or trimming artichokes. Yup, we're using the canned version.

1 can artichoke hearts, drained
zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3-4 tsp water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2-1 cup chicken broth
1 lb pasta (penne, rigatoni, whatever you like!)

1. Drain the artichokes. Put all the ingredients EXCEPT the chicken broth and pasta into a blender, and give it a whir until smooth. If you need to thin it out a little, add a little bit of water in intervals until it blends.
2. Boil pasta in heavily salted water. Drain. Toss with pesto. Thin out the pasta/pesto combination with a little bit of chicken broth, until it's the consistency you like.


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