Growing up, our dinners generally consisted of three minimally touching food group representatives, and since I automatically hated the vegetable component, it never occurred to me to eschew one of the remaining categories. Is there a term for a strictly dairy and carb diet? That said, those of us who find nothing at all disturbing about the meat wall at the supermarket should keep in mind that any dinner or cocktail party we throw will likely have a few guests who would appreciate a vegetarian option other than potatoes and salad. This one uses several often overlooked ingredients, making you look creative and thoughtful, leading your vegetarian diners to feel special. And that they are.
1 box cavatelli pasta
1 10 oz jar sundried tomatoes in olive oil (julienned will save you time), finely chopped, oil reserved
1 12 oz jar artichoke hearts in oil or water, drained and finely chopped
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp pinenuts
2 tbsp capers
3 fresh basil leaves, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
freshly grated Parmesan
salt and pepper
Set the oven to 350 and prepare the pasta according to the package directions.
Heat 3 tbsp of the reserved tomato oil in a large, deep pan over med-high heat. Saute the onion, garlic and pine nuts just until the garlic begins to turn gold, then grab the pan away from the heat and give it a few seconds to prevent the garlic from burning while you turn the heat down to medium. Put the pan back on the stove and add a little more tomato oil, followed by the tomatoes and artichokes. Cook and stir until most of the water released from the artichokes has evaporated, somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 minutes. Stir in the remainder of the reserved tomato oil – yeah, it’s a lot of oil – and toss in the capers, basil, salt and pepper. Stir the sauce well, scraping up any sticky bits at the bottom. Cover the pan, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.
The pasta should be done right around the same time, figuring in the time required to boil a big pot of water, so assuming you pulled it off, combine the pasta and sauce in a large bowl or the pot used to cook the pasta. Stir until you’re certain you’ve eliminated any sticky colonies of uncoated cavatelli. Transfer the pasta to its serving dish or bowl, and serve the Parmesan in a nearby bowl with a spoon. This has got to be at least close to vegan? Is there eggless pasta? I’ll be working on that in my sleep tonight.