Helloooo heat wave, it seems you’re here to stay. I don’t like you and you don’t like me so let’s just keep to our sides of the fence m’kay? When it’s hot outside I tend to crave lighter fare, maybe cuz I’m already so sluggish from the heat that just the thought of a hearty meal puts me in a food coma. This is another relatively quick dish you can throw together that takes advantage of your summer produce without wilting over a hot stove for hours, more like 40 minutes including prep time. The tangy lemon and bright zing of fresh parsley really help to cut through the starchiness of the pasta and rich garlicky olive oil giving you a lot of flavor with fewer calories. The nice crunch of the toasted pine nuts and sugar snap peas also give a nice counterpoint to the soft slurpy pasta and artichokes. What makes this recipe quick and dirty is that you can use frozen artichokes which have already been trimmed and stemmed. Since my ripening sugar snap peas have outstripped my ability to eat them before they wilt, I’ve been trimming and de-stringing them then freezing them. You can’t eat them uncooked this way as they get sort of rubbery when thawed but they stay crisp with a quick sauté.
A few helpful hints to help you get you rolling cuz there’s nothing worse that making a meal that’s so mediocre that you feel you depressed (except maybe setting the kitchen on fire):
1) The trick to cooking painless pasta that doesn’t stick together like a gummy mess is to have the sauce almost completely done before you start boiling the pasta water. Most sauces, unless they’re really delicate emulsions that can separate out will be happy to rest for the 15 minutes needed to boil and cook pasta. Do not boil pasta and then rinse it off in water so it can sit in the colander until you’re ready for it if you can at all avoid it. Why? Cuz rinsing the pasta also gets rid of all that sticky starch on the outside that lets your delicious sauce adhere to and flavor that lovely pasta. That’s also why it’s best not to add oil to pasta water because while it may keep the pasta from sticking together it will also coat the pasta and prevent the sauce from sticking to it as well resulting in a bland slightly greasy carb bomb.
2) Save a cup of pasta water before you pour everything into the colander. This will save you pain and hardship if your sauce is too thick or gummy without making it watery like water or broth would or making your veggies grey lifeless from having to cook down the additional broth. I find that dipping a ceramic mug into the water gives me sufficient pasta water and then I don’t have to worry about being able to aim a 10 lb hot pot as I’m draining it.
3) I like to undercook my pasta by about a minute, so chewy that it’s not even al dente (literally “to the tooth,” such that the texture is firm to the bite), allowing me to finish cooking it in the sauce so that the delicious flavors can stick to the starchy outside of the pasta giving you savory pasta with yummy sauce instead of bland pasta with a savory sauce.
4) Avoid zesting the white, bitter pith of the lemon. Basically one light up and down motion per width of the zester will remove just the zingy zest while leaving behind the bitter pith.
5) Save time cutting the pappardelle strips the from lasagna sheets by gently folding them in half and in half again in the same direction. You can cut all 3-4 sheets at once using only a 4 inch slice instead trying to make a wobbly 12 inch cut.
6) If you tend to cook long noodle pastas (ie spaghetti, fettuccine,…) consider picking up a pair of pasta tongs. It makes transferring pasta effortless without flinging pasta water/sauce around like I always seem to do with a pasta server spoon. So happy when I finally stumbled upon this find. You can also use it to mix as you finish your pasta in the sauce without the dreaded splattering of sauce and veggies everywhere.
12 oz frozen artichoke hearts
1/2 c frozen or fresh peas
1 c sugar snap peas, trimmed and strings removed
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice (basically juice of 1 large ripe lemon)
1-2 tsp lemon zest (basically from 1 large lemon)
1/2 c dry white wine (Chardonnay works well or even Pinot gris)
10 garlic cloves, peeled & lightly smashed with the flat of a knife
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 c retained pasta water
1 lb pappardelle or fresh lasagna sheets cut into 3/4 inch strips, tagliatelle or fettuccine will also substitute well for this
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
3/4 c shredded parmesan
1 tbsp capers (optional)
1/4 c raw pine nuts
Fill a large pot, at least 8 quarts, with water and add 1 tsp salt. This will be the pasta water pot. Place on burner but do not boil water yet.
Heat a large sauté pan or any wide bottomed pan with at least a 3 inch lip over med-hi heat. Add pine nuts and toast till golden brown ~ 3-4 minutes. Do not try to multitask during this step as nuts can burn very quickly. I find a nice cocktail or your favorite beverage works well at this point to keep you entertained and give you a little breather at the end of the day 🙂 Remove the nuts from the pan and set aside in a small bowl. Heat olive oil and butter in the sauté pan till melted. Lower heat to medium, add garlic gloves and sauté till soft and golden brown ~ 2-3 minutes. Remove garlic and discard (don’t worry, you’ve just made a garlic oil so all that garlicky flavor is still in the pan). Add wine, increase heat to med-hi and reduce by 1/2 volume ~ 2 minutes. Add lemon juice, zest, and artichoke hearts and sauté till artichokes are soft ~3 minutes.
At this point turn on the burner on high for the pasta water pot and start boiling.
Add the sugar snap peas, regular peas, and capers to the sauté pan, mix well and turn off the burner but keep the pan on the burner. Mix in parsley, parmesan, salt and pepper.
Take a nice sip of your chosen beverage and enjoy while the water boils. Give your dog or sous chef a smooch while you’re at it 😉
Set a timer for 1 minute less than the recommended cooking time and add pappardelle or whichever pasta you choose to the boiling water and stir frequently otherwise it will stick together and there will be crying in the cocktail [sob]. Ladle out 1 cup of pasta water and then drain pot in a colander in the sink. Shake out excess water then add back half the pasta to the sauté pan. Turn on burner to med-hi heat and mix gently then add remaining pasta. Cook for 1-2 minutes. If at this point your sauce is too dry or gummy, add 1/2 c pasta water and mix. Add pasta water as needed to attain the consistency you desire. I usually find that 1/2 c is usually sufficient as I like my pasta moist but not soupy. Plate onto pasta bowls or shallow soup bowls. Sprinkle each bowl with 1 tsp pine nuts and additional parmesan if desired. Makes 4 servings.