Thursday, February 11, 2010

Creamy Pesto Artichoke Pasta

We had this pasta for dinner last night- it's a dish I concocted after seeing an Italian chef make something similar on a short TV commercial, using artichokes, pasta, and some sort of creamy substance (I assumed it was mascrapone).  It looked so good, I wanted to try my hand at it.  There's only one store around here that sells mascarpone cheese, and last time I went to get some, it looked like they didn't sell it anymore.  :(  I bought something that I thought would be similar; Portuguese queijo fresco batido- "whipped fresh cheese".  It actually tastes more like sour cream than mascarpone, but I used it anyway.  So, one could use sour cream, mascarpone, quiejo fresco batido, or Crème fraiche for this recipe. 

I was very happy to see fresh basil in my store, for the first time in about a month.  (lol!)  So, I picked up 2 packages- about 4 oz. total, to go into this recipe.  I used canned artichoke hearts for convenience.  (By the way, this dish looks very bright and vivid green in real life; it was hard to get a good pic in last night's fading light.)

Creamy Pesto Artichoke Pasta
by What a Dish!

Basil/Artichoke Pesto:
3-4 ounces fresh basil, rinsed
1 small clove garlic
1/2 cup almonds, toasted lightly (in a dry skillet)
1 can 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained
salt and peper, to taste
splash lemon juice
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

10 ounces dry ziti or penne pasta
1 cup mascarpone cheese, queijo fresco batido, sour cream, or Crème fraiche
salt and pepper, to taste
extra Parmesan, for garnish

Boil the 10 oz. pasta according to package directions; drain.  Meanwhile, make the pesto.  In a food processor, combine basil, garlic, almonds, artichoke hearts, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  Pulse until combined.  Then, with the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil.  Add parmesan and process for a few seconds or until combined. 

Measure the mascarpone cheese, queijo fresco batido, sour cream, or Crème fraiche into a large serving bowl.  Mix in all of the artichoke/basil pesto until combined.  Stir in the drained pasta, and salt and pepper, if needed.  Serve immediately. 

(Note- I made this again on 3/17/2010, using Mascarpone and mini penne, and it was SO good that way- I liked it tons better. I had less basil, though, (darn it!) so it wasn't as green.  New photo below.)

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Linda said...

Fading light or not, it looks delicious. Did you like the taste of the Portuguese cheese in it?

What A Dish! said...

Yes- it was just a light tanginess, like sour cream. Thanks!

Sophie said...

This is one georgous & ooh so tasty dish!!

Great food!