I was craving pasta a couple days ago. Sometimes it is the ingredients in your pantry that commands you to cook. It happened to me when I was blankly staring at the containers and jars for an inspiration and there was this unopened jar of artichoke hearts looking back at me. I don’t remember why I bought it but it was there! It was time for them to move into my bowl. I wanted it to shine through without any other ingredient submerging its delicate flavor.
Nothing is satisfying, tasty and appealing to the eyes like a Spaghetti dish. To be honest, I did not know the difference between noodles and Spaghetti in the beginning. Then I realized they are continents apart in origin although very close in appearance.
Spaghetti is the first kind of pasta I tried way back in Kenya when I was slowly getting introduced to international foods. I had to tone down my expectations and re-train my taste buds that were previously hooked on spices. It was a learning experience to start relishing these simple flavors. Now my palate is better adapted.
I made this dish using a béchamel sauce which is a white sauce made with butter and flour (roux) and milk. I am used to pasta with tomato-based red sauces and a change was essential. I added zucchini and tomato pieces with artichoke hearts to make it a simple vegetarian version.
- 200 grams Spaghetti
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 zucchini chopped
- 1/2 tomato
- 6-8 pieces canned artichoke hearts
- salt & white pepper
- grated Parmesan cheese
- Boil water in a large pan and salt it generously.
- Add Spaghetti to boiling water and watch it slowly sliding down into the water as it becomes tender.
- Cook pasta al-dente. (If you bite it it should not be hard but just cooked with a bite in it.)
- In the meantime, saute zucchini pieces in a little butter and keep aside.
- Heat a knob of butter in a heavy bottom pan, add a tablespoon of flour and stir until it is cooked to a cream colour.
- Add minced garlic and stir until fragrant.
- Add milk to it and boil stirring continuously until lumps disappear and sauce comes together.
- Sprinkle white pepper and salt.
- Stir in cooked zucchini, drained artichoke hearts and tomato.
- Transfer cooked pasta from the boiling water into the sauce using tongs.
- Turn everything well to coat in sauce.
- Garnish with Parmesan cheese.
Add salt with a little caution as canned artichoke hearts may be salted and Parmesan cheese is also salty. I was tempted to add chilli flakes but it will affect the gentle taste of this dish. This is supposed to be creamy and smooth without any heavy spices. So it is fit for very young children.
It goes well with red wine. I had Vieux Chateau du Roi (VCR), a red blend which is full-bodied with oaky notes. My husband is into making his own wine but it is not completely made at home. He selects the juice and a winemaker blends it to perfection in his state-of-the-art facilities and ferments it for us. It comes home to complete its flavour development stage by resting for a few months. I will talk about that later in another post.
I used grated Parmesan cheese for it’s rich and sharp taste. There was no basil available or else it would have graced the occasion. I devoured a large portion of this Spaghetti. It was just plain delicious and I was thoroughly satisfied!