One of the things I love about cooking is the feeling that on one hand you are chopping, stirring, beating, stewing as countless people have done before you, while on the other you’re creating that unique dish at that particular time for those specific people. It’s being part of an age-old tradition and heritage while at the same time completely doing your own thing. In that sense, I think you could call cooking one of the most postmodern activities out there; everything’s already been done a million times over, so originality is out, but what a wealth of experience to work with and make your own. I think there is freedom in there, somewhere.
Having just said that, you probably won’t be too impressed with me telling you this is my own creation. But it is, within the pesto, spread, pasta sauce spectrum, anyway. 😉 Right, let’s ditch the philosophy and get our hands dirty (another thing I love about cooking; it’s a perfect mix of creativity and comforting routine chores).
I love the flavour of marinated artichokes but unless you buy really good ones from a delicatessen, they almost always have tough, wooden bits in them. This is why I decided to blitz jarred, supermarket-bought artichokes into a pasta sauce with some other ingredients, creating an unforeseen second dish; an excellent spread to serve with crackers and drinks! The artichoke and basil mixture has just the right texture and flavour for it. If you’re after the spread, simply blend together the sauce ingredients mentioned below (see ‘preparation’ also, though). If you want to make a main, follow the entire recipe.
– 180 g wholemeal spaghetti or pasta of your choice
– 3 tbsp/30 g pine nuts
For the sauce
– 1 x 295 gr jar of marinated artichoke hearts (in brine, not oil)
– 15 g basil leaves
– 1 heaped tbsp nutritional yeast (you could use parmesan)
– 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
– 1/4 tsp of fine sea salt (or to taste)
– pepper, to taste
– 3 tbsp/45 ml extra virgin olive oil
– Cook pasta according to packet instructions.
– Meanwhile dry-fry the pine nuts in a skillet to toast them. Be careful not to burn them, they should be golden.
– Blitz all the sauce ingredients, except the oil, in a (mini) food processor or with a stick blender.
– Add the oil gradually in a thin stream while still blending.
– When the pasta is almost cooked, hold back 1/4 cup/60 mls of the starchy cooking water.
– Gradually stir this water into your artichoke mixture to loosen it up. Go easy and see how much you need, the sauce should coat the pasta but not be thin.
– Drain the pasta when cooked and put it back in the pan. Mix in the artichoke and basil sauce using salad cutlery or similar.
– Divide between bowls, sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and serve.