Pasta with Artichokes and Lemon Zest

1 pound dried or fresh pasta
14 ounces frozen artichoke quarters, thawed
6 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 large shallots, chopped finely (about 2 cups)
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Zest of 1 large lemon
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese plus more for serving

Cook pasta in a large pan with salted boiling water. Follow package cooking direction, or cook until al dente. Make sure you reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

In a large sauté pan, heat 4 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Sauté the shallots, salt, and pepper, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent. This may take 5-6 minutes. Add the sliced artichoke bottoms, and continue to stir, for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and zest and cook another 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice and about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Remove from heat.

In a small saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of breadcrumb over medium-low heat.  Sauté until the breadcrumb mixture is lightly golden, stirring often.  When ready, remove from heat and continue stirring for a few more minutes, then add the grated cheese.

Drain the pasta and transfer to the artichoke mixture in the sauté pan. Add 1/4 - 1/2 cup of the hot pasta water, so that the consistency is not dry but also not runny. Make sure everything is mixed really well. Add cheese and breadcrumb mixture and toss well. Serve with extra Parmigiano cheese on the side. Serves 4-6 persons.

This is a quick, elegant pasta dish.  It can be made from items in your pantry and freezer. I don’t recommend using canned artichokes because they are too watery and they will break up too easily in the sauce, leaving very little consistency and flavor. Of course for best taste... buy fresh artichokes when in season, clean and part boil them, and then use them with this recipe. 

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