By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: January 12, 2019 | 8:05 a.m.
OK. I’m just going to go right ahead and say it. This. Is. Fantastic. I pretty much made it up this week, and, frankly, I feel pretty good about it! But I admit I’ve struggled with what to call it. It IS a Quick and Easy Dish, and who doesn’t love those? It’s delicious served hot, cold or room temperature. It has Artichokes and Pasta and Walnuts and Garbanzos and Fresh Basil and several other of my favorite things BUT – you can substitute for any of them. Although the walnuts, garbanzos, and parmesan cheese provide ample protein for a vegetarian entree, you easily could add chopped grilled chicken and thrill the pickiest carnivore. And it’s so richly textured, with a taste that is light yet hearty, that you could serve it as a salad, a snack, a side dish or a main course. In fact, you could serve it as anything but a dessert! I think I’ll just call it “My new favorite thing.”
These are the basics that I used.. You could also substitute a different cheese, pine nuts instead of walnuts, add olives…
ANYWAY, to begin at the beginning. I recently found myself hungry for “something” – but couldn’t decide what. I finally decided it must begin with artichoke hearts, partly because I love them and, ok, partly because I already had some in the cabinet, which meant I wouldn’t have to make a trek to the grocery store. So I took down the can of artichoke hearts – the plain “packed in water” kind, not the marinated ones – and went online for inspiration. I found some recipes that were interesting, but they either called for things I didn’t have on hand or just didn’t quite make the grade. So I went back to the cabinet to see what else I already had on hand. Hmmmm… I had a little bowtie pasta (Farfalle). So I put that on to boil before going back to forage in the cabinets again.
I soon discovered a can of garbanzo beans which would add a little flavor and a lot of protein and texture, so I took that out. Thinking crunch, I dug some English walnuts out of the fridge. Parmesan cheese is good in ANYTHING, so I coarsely grated a bit of that. It was already shaping up to include several of my favorite things to eat, but I knew that it wouldn’t do much for the eyes. So to add some color, I got out some sliced pimentos. Fresh basil is one of my favorite flavors, and green is my favorite color, so I chopped up a few leaves from the plant growing on the windowsill (that I rescued just before the first frost) and in that went!
The flavor is light but hearty, and you can eat it right away or make it up a day ahead. Serve it hot, cold, or anything in between!
But what to use to tie it all together? Hmmm… Artichokes have a lemony flavor to me anyway, so I squeezed a fresh lemon, mixed the juice with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil, sea salt, coarse ground back pepper and the chopped artichokes. Then I stirred in the rest of the ingredients, figuring that since I liked everything in it it would be ok. I admit it; I was wrong. It was spectacular!
This is another of those versatile “base dishes” I love to share, because you really can make it your own. I’m sure it would be great with the addition of some halved cherry or grape tomatoes if you were serving it as a salad or cold side. (I didn’t have any.) Fresh baby spinach also would be a mighty tasty addition if you were going the salad route. Pine nuts could be a good substitute for the walnuts if you wanted to change it up a bit. With a little more Parmesan Cheese you’d have the perfect side dish – hot or cold – with a broiled or grilled (or fried) meat or fish entrée. In fact, stir in some grilled chicken – hot or cold – and you’d have a perfect one-dish meal. And believe me, this is a great snack right out of the fridge! Oh, the possibilities!
To me, the fresh basil makes the dish, but I’ll bet it would be delicious with dried basil as well – and probably some other favorite herbs as well
One thing that I did do a little differently than I’m presenting here is that my sister had brought me some lemon infused olive oil from New York which I had not yet tried. I did substitute a tablespoonful of that for part of the olive oil listed for a little extra lemony kick. It was great, but since that’s something I doubt many people keep on hand – I generally don’t – as I said, I didn’t list it in the recipe. However, if you happen to have some, by all means substitute that for some of the plain EVOO.
As a bonus, this is also a perfect “make ahead” dish, as it’s at least as good the next day, after the flavors have a chance to mingle. And while I love it just as it is, the flexibility makes it easy to adjust to make it your own. Because, it may be perfect as-is for me, but with the exception of the artichokes and the pasta, if there’s anything in this that you’re not crazy about, eliminate it! And if there’s anything you “think” would be good in it (like the aforementioned grape tomatoes, baby spinach, a different cheese (I’ll bet feta cheese would be amazing in this!) grilled chicken), try it! I’ll bet you’ll find that you’re exactly right. Enjoy!
Queenie Cooks: The Ultimate One-Dish Wonder
- 4 Cups Cooked bow-tie pasta (Farfalle) (about 1 heaping Cup uncooked) boiled and drained
- 1 (14 oz) can water-packed artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 1 Cup canned garbanzo beans
- ½ Cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 1/3 Cup coarsely chopped English walnuts
- 4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Juice of one large lemon (or more)
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- Salt and coarse ground black pepper
Prepare pasta in salted water according to package directions, but do not overcook. Drain and set aside. Mix together lemon juice, chopped basil, EVOO, Parmesan cheese, and chopped artichokes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in other ingredients, adding pasta last, until well blended. Enjoy!
Look for Queenie Cooks every week online and in the Sussex Surry Dispatch and other local papers for food-related recipes, stories, information, and fun. You never know what Queenie may be cooking up, but you can always count on at least one great recipe to try at home, generally for something you can prepare quickly, easily, and with just a few, common ingredients. Hey! We all have to eat. Let’s have some FUN with it!