Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cooking for one - Fettuccine with Artichokes

Bob's out of town for work again and you know what that means? Lebanese take-out!

Just kidding! Who would want to read about my take out meals? Hmmm...I guess some people might, but that's not why I started this blog. Thanks to you, I'm actually sticking to my resolutions and I'm cooking dinner more often. Still not every night and no, I have no plans to kick my pizza habit, but hey, one meal at a time.

Tonight's dinner is compliments of the wonderful writers at the former Gourmet magazine. Gourmet called it quits over a year ago and I still miss it. True, I didn't cook very much from it at the end. And I often spent a lot of time hunting down exotic ingredients for a recipe that easily took me over 2 hours to cook. But I've yet to find a replacement that gets me as excited about cooking and food as Gourmet. At least not one that I can afford.

Fettuccine with Artichokes is a meal I often make when I'm dining solo. I realize this is my second vegetarian meal and some of you might be wondering what's going on. I haven't stopped eating meat, but I tend to skip it when Bob's out of town. Like I said before, I try to use these occasions as an opportunity to cook things Bob doesn't eat - like artichokes.

So nothing tricky about this recipe. Really basic ingredients, too. The only thing I usually have to pick up from the store is the frozen artichokes. But if you plan ahead (unlike me), you can have them sitting in your freezer, just waiting for an opportunity to be turned into this.

I usually get mine at Trader Joe's because that's the first place I saw them. And of course, at Trader Joe's, they're super cheap. But 'my' store didn't have them so I had to plow on to my usual grocery store. What dedication, huh? Believe me, I was pretty impressed with myself. Missing ingredients is my standard excuse to grab some pizza. But, um, since we had pizza last night, that wasn't an option. At least not for another week.

Fettuccine with Artichokes

serves: one (the original recipe serves 6)

notes: The changes I made were pretty minor. I added a bit more of the artichokes because I really like them. And I held off adding the lemon zest til the end because I think it tastes fresher that way.

Cooking for one can be tricky when it comes to choosing a pan size. The saute pan in this recipe needs to be large enough to hold the cooked pasta at the end, but not too large so that the onion burns. I like the taste of the caramelized (browned) onion, but if you don't, keep the heat on low the entire time.

3-4 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, not thawed (or about 12 hearts)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 of a small onion
kosher salt and black pepper
pinch of red hot pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 ounces dried egg fettuccine
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook artichokes til just tender, barely 2 minutes. Do not drain pot - remove artichokes with a slotted spoon and set aside. Return pot to boil.
  2. Chop onion into small or large pieces, whatever you prefer. Heat butter and olive oil in 10" nonstick saute pan over med heat.  When foaming butter subsides, saute onions, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 6 minutes. If onions are getting darker than you like, turn the heat down to low.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted, boiling water (the pot from #1) til al dente. My noodle package recommended 8-10 minutes so that's what I used. Fresh fettuccine noodles (sold in the refrigerated section of the grocery store) will take much less time to cook. Again, check the label.
  4. While pasta is cooking, add artichokes to the onions and saute for approximately 3 minutes until warmed through and starting to brown. Stir in lemon juice and remove from heat.
  5. Drain pasta (reserving 1/2 cup pasta water) and add to artichoke mixture. Add 1/4 cup of pasta water to pan, along with lemon zest, parsley and Parmesan and toss to combine.
  6. Taste and season with additional salt if needed. Thin mixture with remaining pasta water if desired and serve with additional cheese on the side.
  7. And don't forget a salad to round out the meal!

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