I confess that I do not always feel extremely excited about cooking when I get home late.  But late or not, I’m usually excited about eating.  I always keep some kind of pasta – fresh or dried – on hand because it makes a fast, filling meal in a pinch (and, to be fair, my dad’s family is Italian and I will always think of pasta as comfort food).  There are more or less 15 minutes built in to every pasta preparation, between readying the water and cooking the pasta itself.  Recently, I started marking the prep time for other parts of the meal in relation to the time it takes the pasta to cook.  That is, I know I’ve got something really fast in my sights when I can safely say “you can make [whatever it is] before the pasta it goes with has had a chance to cook!”

You can make this artichoke pesto before the pasta it goes with has had a chance to cook!  See?  Neat.

Honest to goodness, I threw together this little saucey wonder a few weeks ago after getting home sometime north of 9 p.m., weary and belly a’growling.  It was absolutely delicious, especially when garnished with a few sliced campari tomatoes.  Artichoke recipes generally garner favor with me, but this one brings something special to the table (oh, ouch, that one even hurts to type).

Kindly note, this type of pesto is not cooked or heated before it is added to the pasta.  The residual heat from the noodles will warm it up just fine.  I suppose, if you want to get technical, this isn’t so much cooking as mixing.

On the mixing – you will notice that I recommend a food processor.  After owning one for a few years, I must say that it’s one of two kitchen electrics I deem critical to a well-functioning kitchen (the other being some form of electric mixer).  There are many, many things, this sauce included, that you can throw together with the most minimal effort if you can get your hands on a food processor.  Honestly, there are things I make now that I never bothered with in my pre-food processor days because they are simply too much trouble.  Anything that involves cutting fat into flour (biscuits, pastry dough, pie crust, etc.) is a great example – takes several minutes by hand versus a few seconds by processor.  I have a fantastic 7-cup model by Cuisinart, which I think is worth every penny (currently $99.95  at Amazon), and there are even less expensive models out there.  Hands down, it’s the kitchen electric I use most.

In addition to pasta, this sauce tastes fantastic on toasted artisan bread or crackers.  I also pulled off a lovely cold salad for lunch one day by mixing a few heaping spoonfuls of the pesto into a can of tuna and topping with avocados and tomatoes.  The brightness of the artichoke and the tang of the lemon-garlic flavors complemented the tuna nicely.

(Keep reading Easy Artichoke Pesto…)