Another dish inspired my trip to Italy is an easy to make pasta dish that is packed with flavour. I decided to mimic the Italian’s way of using a few key ingredients in each dish, and resisted the urge to keep adding in more ingredients. Italians use artichoke a lot in their cooking, and on the Amalfi coast they put lemons in pretty much everything as every piece of land and even smalls garden seems to have vines of plump lemons growing happily. I decided to marry the two, as I think the salty artichokes cut through the sweet creamy lemon sauce perfectly.
I got the artichoke hearts used for this in The Real Olive Stall at the Temple Bar market (they go to loads of farmers markets all over the country), but other good deli’s should do them, and I believe you can get them tinned and in jars too in supermarkets. This is really quick and easy, but mouthwatering and delicious. If you reserve one or two of the artichoke hearts to serve they look really impressive, like little green roses garnishing the dish. Enjoy and let me know how you get on with the recipe!
Ingredients (serves 2):
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
10 artichoke hearts
1 large handful baby spinach leaves
1 ball fresh mozzerella (I love Toonsbridge Dairy)
salt and pepper
Pasta of your choice
1. Pop the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water with a dash of olive oil. Cook according to packet instructions making sure to take drain when the pasta is al dente… no one likes soggy pasta.
2. Make a roux to form the base of your sauce by adding the butter and flour in a saucepan on a low heat, and stir for two minutes to cook the flour through (this gets rid of any potential flour taste and helps thicken the sauce more efficiently). Whisk in the milk and season with salt and pepper. Keep stirring all the time to prevent lumps. This is made very quickly, so best to start this half-way through cooking of pasta.
3. Chop up artichoke hearts into quarters, leaving two whole for serving. Add the artichoke (bar the two whole ones) to the sauce with the spinach, parmesan cheese, lemon juice and zest and stir for a few minutes until heated through. Tear up the mozerella and stir through the pasta before serving.
4. Pour the sauce over your pasta and stir through, serving with the nice pretty artichoke on top and a crack of black pepper.