Dinner Favorites · Pasta

Spaghetti with Artichokes, Leeks and Lemon

The other day, I received a phone call from my mother that went a little like this:

Mom: Hello……we made it back safely, how are you?

Me: Great! Glad to hear the flight was good….

Mom: Yes and what are you making for dinner tonight?

Me: Well…(pause)………be at the house at 6 and you’ll find out.

Mom: Excellent. See you then.

I love these dialogues……not just because they are direct and to the point (like my mother’s personality, no question about that), it motivates me into quick thinking and planning for dinner.

Because once again, I had no clue what I was making. Notice a pattern here?


So I took a quick peek through the Serious Eats quick dinner category, prepared a short shopping list, and I was on it!


This was so good – light, refreshing, and exceptionally flavorful. Using canned artichokes was my only deviation from the original recipe….but much like using a premade pie crust (don’t start with me on that one again), sometimes you have a take a shortcut to achieve your goal.

And in this particular instance, the goal being dinner for 6 on time.

Spaghetti with Artichokes, Leeks and Lemon – adapted from serious eats

  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 2 14 oz cans halved artichokes in water, drained
  • 2-3 medium leeks – trimmed, split, well rinsed and sliced into 1/2″ chunks
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • Several grinds of coarse black pepper
  • Several pinches of crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • Parmesan Reggiano,  for serving

Heat about 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil and the butter in a large, deep sauté pan over medium high heat; add the artichoke hearts, keeping them moving in the pan. After a few minutes, add the sliced leeks, and season everything with black pepper. Continue to sauté the vegetables over medium heat until the leeks are soft and almost translucent, then add the lemon zest and juice, crushed red pepper flakes to taste, and 2 or 3 tablespoons of the hot pasta water.Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Cook the pasta until it is al dente, which should take 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness. When the pasta is cooked, add it to the simmering pan of artichokes with a splash of the pasta water and a few more tablespoons of olive oil. Toss everything over the heat for 30 seconds to bind the sauce with the pasta before plating. Serve with a grating of parmesan reggiano.


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