Monday, February 18, 2013

Date Night Dinner: Lemon Pasta with Capers & Artichoke Hearts

Hello All!   I guess I haven't posted in longer than it seems! I've been pretty busy with projects around here.... they are not quite ready for posting yet as most of them are scheduled as gifts! I've also taken up KNITTING! I took a 2 night basic class and I've been attempting to finish an "easy" 9 square pillow project kit I purchased 6 (!) years ago-- intending to learn then. I've just about got that sucker finished but I don't think its going to be suitable for public display. On the other hand I've gotten a lot of practice and learned a lot of technique along the way- thank goodness for the internet and youtube! I'm looking forward to finishing this up and moving on to something that hopefully won't look like the dog made it :P

I know Valentine's day was last week (as was our anniversary-- 13 years, yay us!). We went out for our anniversary but I opted to make something special for the whole family for V-day. I paired this up with some beautiful seared scallops (a special holiday splurge) that I seared off with nothing but a small sprinkling of simple salt and pepper. You could also do shrimp or grilled chicken or leave it vegetarian. Completing the simple approach was a nice side salad-- we dressed ours with a homemade blue cheese dressing but a vinegrette would also be good here. Paired with white wine for the grown ups and a sparkling apple cider for the kids, we had a special mid-week dinner that the whole family loved!

Note: For this recipe I actually had "extra" artichokes in the fridge (this is pretty much the ONLY time I've ever had this happen). So, I actually made the artichoke heart pieces BUT feel free to just grab a can from the store-- but be sure to NOT get the marinated ones!

I used 4 smallish artichokes. To prep your own artichoke hearts, first cut off the stem as close to the base of the artichoke as possible. Then, using a firm hand, grasp a leaf and pull up sharply until it snaps off at the base. Discard leaf. Repeat until the leaves are very very thin and you should see a dent or wrinkle between the base of the artichoke and the tip. Cut all the leaves off at that point and discard. Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise (stem to tip) and use a small metal spoon to scoop out the fuzzy, thistle --the "choke". Discard. Cut each half heart lengthwise into 3rds or 4ths and toss into a pan of water. Boil until slightly yielding but not overly soft-- kind of "al dente" - 10ish minutes, depending on how big your heart pieces are.  Drain and set aside.

Recipe: Lemon Pasta with Capers and Artichoke Hearts

8 oz fettucini
2 lemons
2 cloves garlic, crushed (or 1 tsp jarred)
3 Tbs capers, rinsed
14 oz can or pre-prepped artichoke hearts, drained
3 Tbs butter
1/4 cup grated parmesan

1) Cook pasta according to package instructions.
2) Zest 1 of the lemons, set aside
3) Juice both lemons -- be sure to remove any seeds that escape-- I like juicing over my tea strainer!
4) While pasta is draining, melt butter in emptied pasta pan.
5) Once butter is melted, add in lemon juice, zest, garlic, capers, and artichoke hearts.
6) Return pasta to pan and toss to coat. Add parmesan and salt to taste. Toss again.
7) Top with seared scallops, shrimp or chicken, if desired!

Lest you think I am super amazing, there was also a special dessert I made to go with this. Cute little heart shaped strawberry hand pies (all the rage all over Pinterest). Unfortunately, my continued struggles with pie crust and the fact that I only had whole wheat flour in the house yielded some cute but nearly inedible desserts. Thankfully I had purchased some vanilla ice cream to go with the pies. A scoop of ice cream and a sprinkling of chopped strawberries over top and it wasn't too bad.

As always, feel free to comment or leave questions below. I'd love to know how this recipe works for you!

Like us on Facebook to add us to your newsfeed!