Pesto has been in short supply in our apartment this summer, since the heat has so thoroughly stunted the growth of basil that we haven’t been able to save up enough for a pesto. I kept looking back at the pea pesto posted on Smitten Kitchen back in June, but Mr. B hates peas. He hates them like a four-year-old boy, making faces and stomping his feet if I even talk about putting peas in something he has to eat, too.
We both love artichokes, though. And if pureed artichokes can be used to fill pierogis, I couldn’t see why they wouldn’t make a perfectly good pesto.
I was right. It’s creamy and rich, but still fresh and light as a pesto should be.
Ingredients (serves 2)
8 oz frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1/4 pound asparagus
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1-2 cloves garlic
2 T lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil, plus a few teaspoons for cooking the vegetables
salt and pepper to taste
6 oz. dry pasta
2 chicken breasts
a few basil leaves
2 T butter, oil, or schmaltz
Heat a splash of olive oil and the 2 T of lemon juice over high heat.
Add the artichokes.
Sauté the artichokes until they are well browned.
Set aside the artichokes and add the asparagus to the pan.
Sauté the asparagus as well. Also the garlic, if your garlic has not been stolen by a squirrel.
Put the artichokes, asparagus, and garlic into the bowl of a food processor. Add the olive oil.
Process until it forms a smooth paste.
Add the parmesan, salt, and pepper and process it again.
Set the pesto aside. Heat some oil or butter or schmaltz over medium-high heat in a grill pan.
Add the chicken and some basil leaves to the pan.
Cook the chicken 4-5 minutes a side until it’s fully cooked through.
Remove the chicken from the heat and chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta.
Drain the pasta and top it with the pesto.
Stir in the pesto.
Divide the pasta among your plates and top with the basil chicken.
Serve immediately. The pesto might be easier to stir into the pasta if you thin it out with a bit of pasta water, but I never remember to reserve any and it was delightful without alteration. We had a bit of pesto leftover and spread it over some toasted French bread for lunch the next day. If you like artichokes, this pesto is a must.