Monday, August 23, 2010

Tomato, Artichoke and White Bean Penne

This one of our favorite pasta dish, the one that makes my son ask with a smile on his face -"Is it the one I eat a ton of ?" Literally, he would have eaten 4 bowls before I ask if he is having seconds! I made it this week for my daughter as part of  her count down Must Eat before College dish. It is something she can easily make in her new apartment.

I make it a lot in the summer with tomatoes from my garden and also at other time of the year with just pantry staples. It is best with fresh tomatoes but canned whole tomatoes will work too. As long as you have cans of whole tomatoes,white bean and artichoke hearts in the pantry and pancetta or bacon in the fridge, you are on your way. It is a dish that you can easily substitute with items you have on hand. I think italian sausage in place of the pancetta or bacon and asparagus in place of the artichoke will work well too. Just experiment!

4 oz of chopped pancetta (Trader Joe sells a pre-cubed package)
2 cups of cherry tomatoes (any heirloom tomatoes cut up or canned whole tomatoes roughly cut up)
1 shallot, minced
6 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 can (15 oz) white beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts (halved if whole) or frozen artichokes
1 teaspoon of italian seasoning
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of coarse black pepper
1 teaspoon of chile flakes
1/4 cup chopped parsley
4 tablespoon of olive oil
1 box (14.5 oz) penne (our favorite is Barilla Plus a multigrain pasta)

Wash and de- stem  cherry tomatoes. If using  bigger heirloom tomatoes or whole canned tomatoes, cut tomatoes up coarsely.
Fry cubed pancetta until crispy and brown. Alternatively you can use bacon, fried and then crumbled or cut into little pieces. Remove from pan. Pour out but 1 tablespoon of fat.

Drain canned or thawed frozen artichoke hearts. Cook in same pan in which the pancetta or bacon was cooked. Brown both sides of the artichoke hearts until golden. Remove from pan.

Meanwhile cook penne until almost al dente. It should be slightly undercooked as we will be cooking it in the sauce to finish.

Add 2 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and saute the shallots and sliced garlic until golden. Add the tomatoes to pan. Season with italian seasoning, salt, black pepper and chile flakes. Cook until cherry tomatoes just"split/pop". 
Add drained white beans to pan. Return the cooked pancetta or bacon and artichoke to pan. Add al dente cooked penne to pan with half a cup of pasta cooking water. Cook everything together until flavors come together, about 5 minutes. Add a bit more pasta cooking water if too dry. Lastly, sprinkle over the chopped parsley. Drizzle another tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil and toss. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Pasta is ready to serve.

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