Last week I was chugging along on the elliptical machine when Brian Boitano came on The Today Show for a quick summer cooking segment. I’ve been enjoying Brian’s Food Network show, What Would Brian Boitano Make?, and was thrilled to see that he can hold his own on live television as well. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, since he is an Olympian and all, but I was really impressed that he a) knows his stuff in the kitchen and b) can trim an artichoke with Al Roker shoving a microphone in his face every two seconds!
I was destined to love this pasta dish from the start, since craving carbs and gym workouts seem to go hand-in-hand for me. As I watched eagerly from my cardio perch, Brian deftly twisted fresh spinach and cherry tomatoes into long strands of pasta slicked with a light butter sauce, serving it topped with a heap of freshly grated cheese. I could tell it was a winner and immediately added it to our dinner rotation.
To save time when making this for my family I skipped the hour designated for roasting hand trimmed artichokes and opted for frozen artichoke hearts instead. It did not take away from the flavor in the least and made my job much easier. The rest of the steps were easy to follow, the dish came together exactly as it did on the show. I paired it with a slice of garlic cheese toast and glass of white wine. This was a great dish for summer nights when you don’t feel like turning on the oven and want to load up on fresh vegetables. In fact, I think this August when I make this I’ll add in some fresh corn and, if there isn’t spinach on hand, some roughly chopped arugula.
Brian Boitano’s Summer Pasta – adapted from The Today Show
1 c. frozen artichoke hearts
2 T. olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
2 handfuls of fresh spinach
1/2 c. vegetable or chicken stock
Juice of 1 lemon
6 basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 T. butter
1/4 c. white wine
1/2 lb. linguine
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper
Fill a stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling add a generous pinch of salt.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and sauté the chopped garlic and onion until the onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, artichoke hearts, lemon juice, vegetable stock and white wine. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
At this time, add pasta to the boiling water and cook for about 7 minutes or till al dente.
Let the tomato and wine mixture cook down for 5 minutes. Gently toss, being careful not to stir the artichokes too much as they may break down. If the mixture looks like it is getting too dry, you can add a little more stock. Add the basil and butter to the mixture.
When the pasta is done, drain and put back in the pot. Add tomato mixture to the pot along with the fresh spinach and Parmesan cheese. Mix together, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve in a large bowl or plate. Garnish with a pinch more Parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil.