Friday, July 29, 2011

Creamy Tomato & Artichoke Penne

The inspiration for this recipe came from The Pioneer Woman, but I changed the recipe slightly to suit my own taste (less cream, more garlic, etc). All of us loved this, and it's now one of my favourite pasta dishes. I will definitely be making it again. Don't let the long ingredient list scare you. It's really easy and quick to make. From prep to table can easily be done in 20 minutes if you don't bake it. For just our family, I cut this recipe in half and we had leftovers. It can be topped with grilled chicken or shrimp if you want. I made this with penne and also with spaghetti; I think I actually prefer the spaghetti with this one.

Creamy Tomato & Artichoke Penne - serves 6
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 to 2 cups diced onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 540 mL can diced tomatoes
1 540 mL can artichoke hearts, drained and squeeze excess liquid out (I used whole ones and cut them in half)
Splash of white wine (a couple tablespoons), optional
1/2 cup whipping cream (more or less depending on your taste)
2/3 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup (approx) Italian shredded cheese (mix of provolone, mozzarella, parmesan, emmental)
Fresh herbs to garnish
500 grams pasta of your choice. Penne or spaghetti is good. (Reserve 1 cup of pasta water).

Directions: Cook pasta in boiling water until just firm if baking later or al dente if not. Do not over cook the pasta, especially if planning on baking it later. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Set aside. In a large pan melt the butter with the oil over medium heat. Add in the onions and garlic and saute for a minute or two until onions are clear. Add the tomatoes, artichokes, and white wine (optional). Simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Turn heat down to low. Add cream, chicken stock, parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Heat gently until cheese is melted and sauce thickens slightly. Toss pasta with the sauce. Add a very small amount of reserved pasta water if the sauce is too thick. Garnish with fresh herbs.
To Bake:
Place pasta in a 9 x 13 pan. Make sure there is quite a bit of sauce compared with pasta as the pasta will absorb more sauce when baking, and you do not want it to dry out. Add a bit more broth if it's too dry. Top with shredded cheese. Cover and bake at 400 F for about 15 minutes. Uncover and broil for a few minutes until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.

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