Those of you who have been cooking for a long time probably know the feeling of making a dish which to you seems quite simple, yet to someone else who enjoyed the meal with you, it is fancy and magical. I’d like to share a secret: sometimes all it takes is one to two little touches, that don’t take much time or work, to elevate a dish from plain to pizazz!
Oven-dried tomatoes in olive oil and jarred artichokes are examples of such a touch.
Simple things that only cost a few dollars can really jazz up a weeknight meal or make an occasion special. Using pre-canned dried tomatoes and artichokes adds almost literally no prep time (ok, you have to open it…) but makes the final plate look and taste restaurant quality. Other such items are kalamata or pimiento olives, infused oils or vinegars, capers, pine nuts, brined pepper rings, citrus zest, shaved fresh cheeses, or finishing salts.
This dish takes less than 20 minutes start to finish, with no slicing and dicing of mountains of produce or complex kitchen skills besides boiling, straining, and mixing. If you don’t like spinach, use whatever other vegetables you have on hand, or just stick with tomatoes and artichokes alone. I had some broccoli on hand, so I added it in for extra fiber and nutrition, plus it went with the already-there colors.
Whip this meal up to impress dinner guests, say I love you, or just to enjoy a magical moment to yourself any time.
- 1 pound pasta
- 1/2 jar artichoke hearts
- 2 cups dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
- 1 cup spinach, optional
- 1 cup broccoli, optional
- 2-3 cloves garlic, diced
Step 1: In a large pot, bring 4-6 cups of water to a boil. Add the pound of pasta. You can use any shape here, but plain straight spaghetti is the classic choice.
Step 2: Boil the pasta for 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large pan, add the garlic, chopped tomatoes in oil, and artichokes (and any other vegetables you are using, like the broccoli) and saute for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant and the vegetables soften.
Step 3: Strain the pasta, do not rinse, and add the hot noodles into the frying pan. Stir it all together to coat the noodles with the oil from the tomatoes and the juice from artichoke hearts.
If desired, sprinkle with garlic salt or whatever herbs you enjoy, or grate some fresh hard cheese on top (like Parmesan or white cheddar).