Fresh basil, I like that this pasta recipe uses a lot of it. At the time we made the entrée, our garden was brimming with the herb, one of my all-time faves. Freshly picked, the aroma alone titillates the senses.
This recipe is Milk Street’s weeknight adaptation of the pasta fresca con carciofi e pecorino. The flavors are bright and fresh, and the prep is a breeze (chopping the basil is as arduous as it gets here). In 30 minutes or so, you have a tasty and filling entrée that’s sure to please.
As per Milk Street’s instructions, be sure to purchase jarred marinated artichoke hearts—they offer much more flavor than canned or frozen. You will need three 12-ounce jars to get the 3 cups drained artichokes called for. The hearts usually are halved or quartered; there’s no need to chop them after draining, as they will break apart during cooking.
About those artichokes, if you happen to have jars marinating in mostly oil, go ahead and use that in place of the additional EVOO listed in the ingredients. Trader Joe’s fits that bill, while Cento for example has too much vinegar in the mix.
Our box of rigatoni was only 12 ounces as opposed to the 1 pound called for, which we thought made for a better pasta-to-artichoke ratio, and still provided 4 full servings.
Don’t forget to save 2 cups of the cooking water before draining the rigatoni. You will need the starchy seasoned water to create a sauce that lightly coats and marries the artichokes and pasta.
Rigatoni with Artichokes, Basil and Pecorino
- 1 lb. rigatoni (we only used 12 oz.)
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil (or use the oil from the jarred artichokes)
- 3 cups drained oil-marinated artichoke hearts, patted dry
- 4 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 oz. pecorino romano cheese, finely grated (1 cup)
- 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil, chopped
- 3 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 3 pieces
- In a large Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente. Reserve about 2 cups of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
- Wipe out the pot, add the oil and heat over medium-high until shimmering. Add the artichokes and cook, stirring, until well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. (Ours took 9 minutes.)
- Add the garlic and pepper flakes, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return the pasta to the pot, along with 1½ cups of the reserved pasta water. Cook, uncovered and stirring often, until the pasta is al dente and little liquid remains, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat. Add the pecorino, lemon zest and juice, basil and butter, then stir until the butter is melted.
- Stir in additional pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time until slightly saucy. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Adapted from a recipe by Diane Unger from Milk Street