Fresh tomato & artichoke pasta, a healthy dinner you can whip up in minutes. In less time and for a lot less money than it takes for delivery, you can treat yourself to a delicious plant-based dinner that channels your inner quick chef and discerning palate.
We all know the feeling, it’s been ‘a day’, maybe a long one or we feel unproductive, shattered or worse. And even though the day might be on the backside, the residual effect is there – our resolve to eat more healthfully is now officially challenged. But what if, there were an easy solution that could ‘right’ the ship of your day?
When I’m thinking about how to save myself from myself when it comes to dinner, I look to dishes that require only a few ingredients, are easy to prepare (mindless even), have some element of comfort involved and taste great. I’m happy to say that fresh tomato and artichoke pasta meet or exceeds my ‘righter’ criteria.
Righter #1: 7-ingredients you love
It takes precisely 7-ingredients to whip up this super easy pasta dish. I’m being honest here, this includes ½ cup of vegetable broth and the pasta. Have you ever had the experience of setting off to make a 5-ingredient something or other only to discover that they didn’t include a few ingredients? I guess that makes the title a bit more catchy or lures you into a false sense of simplicity, but to be fair, if you’re having ‘one of those days’ doesn’t it just stand to reason that one of those ingredients it’s assumed you’ll have on hand is exactly the one you ran out and forgot to replenish?
The ‘fresh’ of this recipe really does rest on using fresh cherry or other small tomatoes and fresh basil is a real treat, so you may need a run to the store on the way home if you want to make this on the go. That said, you can buy fresh basil
Even though I’m talking today about fresh artichoke & tomato pasta, this is but one example of how you can grab a few ingredients and give yourself some food comfort served up guilt-free and full of satisfaction.
How to keep fresh basil fresh
There is nothing more disheartening than setting off on a cooking mission, no matter how quick it might be, only to discover that the fresh herbs have withered and wilted. It can be a bit beyond annoying and provide an opening for full blown anger for my part. Before you toss out the fresh herbs and all the flavor and extra antioxidants they contain, perhaps we should consider a few strategies to prolong their life before we start running out for more.
- Look before you buy – just like apples, one bad stalk or even leaf can spread their love like wildfire. Fight the good herb fight by first making sure your ammunition is fresh. Look through the entire package, bunch or fresh plant. Avoid discolorations, wilted or crushed leaves.
- Sell date – if you are buying anything with a label on it, there will be a tiny (don’t get me started on how tiny) date. Obviously, you want the latest date you can find. Have a dig in the back, that’s where they are usually hanging out.
- Wash and store wisely – there are debate about how to store various fresh herbs and I am not claiming any expertise in this field, but in my experience, there are a few strategies that help me.
- Hearty herbs such as thyme and rosemary stay fresh a long time if they are stored in the fridge and kept in their original package. I usually leave those well enough alone. More delicate herbs such as cilantro, parsley and the basil fair better with a wee bit of effort. When you get them home, fill a bowl with water, unpack the herbs, swirl them in the water and gently shake off the excess water. If you are going to use your herbs later in the day or the next, you can wrap them in damp paper towel and in the case of cilantro or parsley, place them in the fridge. Another method is to fill a jar or glass with water and place the stems in (like a flower arrangement). Be sure none of the leaves touch the water and store them in the fridge.
- The Basil exception – Basil has a fridge complex. It does not like the cold, so your absolute best way to preserve it is to keep it at room temperature. Use the ‘flower arrangement’ trick so place the stems in water. I’ve seen folks advocate for covering it with a plastic bag, but be cautious here, if your basil gets too humid it will wilt before your eyes.
‘Righter #2: Easy to prepare
Fresh herbs are sorted and let’s talk about easy preparation in the context of tomato & artichoke pasta. Add garlic to the discussion and yep, that’s about it. This is so easy to prepare in fact that your timing will be only dictated by the pasta. Start that prep first and then run off, wash the tomatoes, slice the artichokes and mince the garlic while the water boils.
Your time on task is very simply to cook the tomatoes long enough for them to break down, which is 10 minutes. I discovered that ½ cup of vegetable broth (or water) poaches the tomatoes so you don’t end up charring them. Add a lid to the pan and you create a steamy situation and your tomatoes will be ready in no time at all. The other rationale for using the broth is that you can add the garlic right away without it burning or getting bitter.
Artichokes – avoid the brine
You might check out this recipe and immediately consider those jars of artichokes that have accumulated from various gift baskets or perhaps you are just scanning the shelves of the supermarket and wind up in a quandary. If you are serious about plant-based, oil free eating (which is what AMDK is all about), then avoid artichokes that are packed in anything but water. The term ‘brine’ indicates salt at the least and likely oil plus other herbs and spices the packages believe will sell you on tasty artichoke hearts. I’ve discovered that canned artichoke hearts (which are usually the cheaper option) can be easily found with nothing added. That’s what you want. We’ll add what we like, thank you.
I always keep a few cans of artichoke hearts handy because, and I’m not ashamed to admit it, if I can justify it, I’m adding them. They are great on pizzas, salads and of course pasta. I, for one, love the natural buttery flavor and subtle sour nuance of this thistle.
Artichokes are also worth eating because they are high in fiber and antioxidants which gives them the added benefit of lowering blood sugar, improving heart, liver and digestion. Dr. Gregor over at Nutrition Facts explains that artichokes are a also a superfood bargain. Don’t know about you, but I’m reaching for another can, if I can.
‘Righter’ #3: Gimme some comfort
The idea of comfort food is really in the mouths of the eater, but comfort food usually has some elements of nostalgia or sentiment around it and often that comes from food that is high in calories or carbs or applies to righter 2, easy preparation. Comfort is all about taste or mouthfeel and it’s really about the sense you get when you eat it.
Pasta tends to rank high on the comfort food list. Possibly, it’s the carbs associated with pasta, but it’s also satisfying and guess what? You don’t need a high calorie, rich sauce to make that happen. And nostalgia isn’t relegated to our childhoods or past bad behaviors. We can get a sense of nostalgia from something we eat just the night before. This happens to use every time I make lentils with homemade pasta. Comfort and pure joy. My point is that your comfort isn’t isolated to naughty foods and if you think it is, then it’s time to start a new comfort food list.
‘Righter’ #4: Great tasting
I learned a long time ago, that unless food tasted great, there was no way I’d get the kind of enjoyment I needed to keep me on a good nutritional trajectory. I can ‘diet’ with the very best of them and I can manage week of tasteless forage, but it’s never resulted in lasting change. I can believe all I want that food is medicine, but if it doesn’t taste great, I’ll skip my daily doses and opt for something off the prescription. And the more I get off the path, the easier it is to travel to another destination. And when I arrive at the valley of unhealthy lethargy, I get to start all over again. Not so joyous.
The only way I’ve broken the cycle once and for all is to ensure that what you eat tastes good, if not terrific or the best you’ve ever had. Comfort gets you part way there and tastes fills the rest of the void. That’s what keeps you from pulling up to the drive through window or dialing delivery. And by all means, consider ‘righter’ 1 & 2 – a few ingredients, quick and easy, because time can be the only thing standing between you, a healthy, delicious dinner and a next day filled with regretful resolution.
My ‘righter’ recipe of using ingredients I love that are plant-based, easy to prepare recipes, comforting when it most needed and putting great tasting food in my mouth is my own food recipe. I consider these elements when I cook and eat at home. Obviously, it’s an adjustment when ordering off a menu, but if there’s anything I’ve learned over my life struggle with eating healthfully, it’s that you can maintain anything for a short period of time.
If you want serious, lasting and impactful change, put in a bit of effort. Find a quick recipe if that’s what you need. Keep cans of artichokes because you love them, and they make a meal special. Start writing your own food recipe and sharpen it until it works for you. Take comfort in a today that you own and a future that you can shape. Peace.Print
Fresh tomato & artichoke pasta: healthy dinner in minutes. This 7-ingredient plant-based pasta recipe delivers a comforting meal with pasta cooking speed.
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups cherry tomatoes, washed
- 2 cups artichoke hearts sliced or quartered
- 1 cup fresh basil chopped
- ½ fresh lemon, juiced (1 Tbsp.)
- Pasta for 4 servings (8 oz./200 gm.)
- Start the water for the pasta first as this will go quickly.
- In a medium pan, add ½ cup vegetable broth and heat it to simmer.
- Add 4 cups of cherry tomatoes and the 3 cloves of minced garlic. Bring the pot to a slow simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes until the skins of the tomatoes soften and they break down.
- Uncover the pan and use the back of a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes so their juice is released. This is also a good time to add your pasta to the boiling water if you haven’t already.
- Stir in the artichokes and heat through for about 1 minute.
- Add about half the fresh chopped basil and the lemon juice. Mix everything well.
- Once the pasta is done, use tongs to pick it up, let it drain a second and then add it to the tomato artichoke mixture. Stir in the pasta.
- Add the remainder of the basil as a garnish for the top and serve.
- Serve with additional lemon wedges or hemp seed parmesan if desired.
- This recipe will work for small tomatoes rather than cherry if that’s what you have on hand. You will want to break them up as they cook.
- I used canned artichoke hearts for this recipe, but you can use frozen. You will want to thaw them a bit by rinsing them in hot water, so your sauce doesn’t get too watery.
- Mushrooms would be another great addition to this recipe. Add them with the tomatoes and reduce the vegetable broth to ¼ cup as mushrooms have a lot of moisture. You may need to increase the cooking time to 15 minutes to reduce the overall moisture content.
- Category: Main Courses
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: fresh tomato & artichoke pasta