When I planned dinner last night, I half expected Claire to hate it. She doesn’t like artichokes. But I think she should. Artichokes are good. And if she doesn’t like them, that means I don’t get to eat them, so she needs to start liking them.
Jeffrey Steingarten, author of The Man Who Ate Everything, had a problem. When he was appointed as food writer for Vogue there were many foods he didn’t like. So he came up with a plan to teach himself to like these foods, in order to better do his job. He made a list, and started eating. He discovered through exposure (at least 10 times in some cases) he could teach himself to like a food he previously didn’t care for. In 6 months, he had crossed all of the foods off his list.
I’ve used Jeffrey’s method on my kids, and on myself. And it works! While Luke has never been a picky eater, Claire had several foods she wouldn’t eat. Among them, seafood. After cooking fish for her about 50 different ways, she now likes almost all seafood. I think it’s sort of like a musical artist or actor, sometimes it’s that one song or role that strikes home and then you’re suddenly a fan. Recipes are like that. You hit on the right one, and voila! You discover the magic of salmon or spinach or frog legs.
So back to artichokes. Claire wasn’t a fan. She’d eat a fresh one, steamed, peeling off the leaves and dipping in sauce. But when it came to using them in recipes she usually turned up her nose. I think part of the problem is that most recipes use canned artichokes that are packed in brine, and she didn’t like the twang. This recipe uses frozen artichoke hearts and much to my surprise, Claire absolutely loved it! She made the loudest yummy noises of all of us. And Luke, well he was just happy about the wagon wheels, as he happily ate two bowls of it.
Wagon Wheels with Artichoke Pesto
(from Everyday Pasta, by Giada De Laurentiis)
1 pound wagon wheel pasta (rotelle)
1 package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parley, lightly packed
1/2 cup toasted walnuts (lightly toast in dry skillet or in a pan in the oven for a few minutes)
Zest & juice of one lemon
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Cook pasta until tender but still firm to the bite, about 8-10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Meanwhile, in a food processor combine the artichokes, parsley, walnuts, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt & pepper. Chop the ingredients fine, stopping the machine to scrape down the sides. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Transfer the artichoke pesto to a large serving bowl and stir in the cheese. Add the warm pasta and toss to combine. If needed, add the reserved pasta water 1/4 cup at a time until it’s the saucy consistency you like. Adjust salt & pepper if necessary and serve with lemon wedges.