As a gift for returning to the east coast, against all my better judgment and wishes.  I was handed 90 degree weather, intense humidity.

And a pager.


I thought the pager was going to make for a really handy paperweight until I was cooking dinner around 3PM yesterday.  And it had the audacity to go off.

Apparently, someone thought that I would be useful in the midst of some kind of medical emergency.  (That someone was wrong because all I did was fling the little piece of vibrating plastic across the room and hide in a corner whilst shaking uncontrollably.)  Strange.  And unusual.

After some reflection and a whole lot of hyperventilating and shrieking, I’m fairly sure that it was a mass page that was sent to everyone in the hospital.  Partially because my friend Amma got paged also and she convinced me that that was the case.  And partially because I’m barely allowed to touch patients, so the idea of me being able to do anything for anyone, but especially someone who is coding, is particularly ridiculous.

Still.  It was unnerving.


Especially given the baby artichoke debacle of 2011.

In which I took exactly 18 baby artichokes.  And ruined them.

I’m truly unsure what went wrong. I cut off the leaves, removed the tough outer shells, sliced off the tips.  And yet.  They were inedible.

I’ve never made inedible pasta before.  It was a severe blow to my ego.

And it made me think.

How different are a knife and a scalpel?  Should I be trusted around either of them?

And do you even want someone at your bedside who can take such cute little thistles and do such dastardly things to them that they can’t even be stomached anymore?

These are the philosophical questions with which my heart wrangles.


I’m sharing this recipe with you anyway.

Because I think the problem with it.  Was me.

I was a baby artichoke virgin prior to this.  And we all know that the first time is always awkward and unsteady, body parts flailing around in all sorts of uncomfortable ways.  A learning experience, to be sure, but not necessarily something you look back on and swoon over.

What? Umm yeah.  Of course I’m still talking about artichokes.

You people have gutter minds.

But you probably also have artichoke skillz.  Which is really why I keep you around.


Pasta with Lemon, Baby Artichokes and Asparagus
Serves 3, adapted from Cooking Light: Cooking Through the Seasons

1/2 lb uncooked pasta
2 1/4 cups cold water, divided
3 lemons, divided
2 lb baby artichokes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.  Set aside and keep warm.

2. Combine 2 cups water and 2 lemons worth of juice in a medium bowl.  One artichoke at a time, cut off the stem to about 1/4-inch of the base.  Peel the stem.  Remove the bottom leaves and tough outer leaves, leaving tender heart and bottom.  Trim about 1 inch from the top of the artichoke.  Cut each artichoke in half lengthwise.  Place the artichoke halves in the lemon water.

3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat.  Drain and dry the artichokes.  Add the artichokes to the pan.  Cover and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Uncover.  Increase heat to medium-high and cook until artichokes are golden, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Place artichokes in a large bowl.

4. Place pan over medium heat.  Add 1/4 cup water and asparagus to the pan.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until crisp tender.  Add asparagus, parsley, and lemon zest to artichokes and toss.  Add pasta, reserved cooking liquid, salt and pepper to the mix. Toss well.  Add lemon juice to taste.  Divide pasta among serving bowls and top with parmesan cheese.

I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted by Ruth over at Once Upon A Feast!


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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75 Responses to Pasta with Lemon, Baby Artichokes, and Asparagus

  1. We’re twins today! Love this pasta dish… the artichokes are gorgeous! Where o’ where did our spring go?

  2. Ada says:

    Ooo what a gorgeous pasta dish! Artichokes are the bomb diggity.

    How exciting that you got a pager! For the past year I’ve had to carry one for my hospital job and it always seems to go off at the worst possible times, like at 3am the night before an exam. At least the pages I receive are no where near as intense as the ones you will eventually receive. That’s so exciting though that people will depend on you for a medical decision!

    Can’t wait to see you Friday:)

  3. You have outdone yourself! This is gorgeous!

  4. Nisrine M. says:

    You are very creative with your pastas, Joanne. You need to make dinner for me sometime 🙂

  5. Simply Life says:

    oh you are too funny and I think this looks great! I used to have a pager for my last job (I’m a mental health clinician) and it definitely is something I never really got used to! I guess I also have one now but don’t have to wear it 24/7 – much different when you can leave it at work 🙂 Congrats though – sounds like things are moving along in the right direction!!

  6. Hey Joanne, Yeah I hate the pager. That shrill noise still makes me jump and I don’t have to respond to codes anymore (thank goodness!). It will get better! And I also feel like all the cooking/chopping I do makes me better with a scalpel – so tell yourself this is your studying for surgery. 🙂

    Sorry the artichokes didn’t work out.. I have never made them myself either (except when they come from a can).

    Glad to see asparagus still prominent in your dishes, though. I have been flying through the asparagus recipes. 🙂

  7. This is inedible? How so? I have never worked with artichokes before so I am clueless how I should be preparing this…

  8. Oh I love love love artichokes and those baby ones are just screaming out my name- pick me pick me! How you do this I don’t know but it is truly a delicious and beautiful one pot pasta dish!

  9. I had a hard time the first time I cooked baby artichokes also… I love the look of this dish, though, and would bet you would have success if you made it again.

  10. Johanna GGG says:

    I hope I may have a first time – with artichokes rather than being paged by a hospital in an emergency – the latter sounds like no fun but I dream of the day I am au fait with cooking artichokes

  11. Joanne says:

    If your physician skills are as finetuned as your cooking skills, evident in these photographs, I’d trust you as my physician 🙂

  12. Lea Ann says:

    Beautiful photos, beautiful dish.

  13. Faith says:

    Oh gosh Joanne, I seriously think I would massacre fresh artichokes if given the opportunity to cook with them! (Not to say I wouldn’t love to try my hand at them though, lol!) Anyway, you’re brilliant, in the kitchen and no doubt in the medical setting.

  14. Shannon says:

    How beautiful! I’ve never cooked artichokes before so I can’t offer up any words there but I’m sure you will be a brilliant doctor.

  15. I’m really embarrased to admit I have not cooked with artichokes very much! I am going to make this dish – I promise you that! It looks so healthy and delicious!!!!

  16. Oh yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about. LOVE artichokes…always such a great addition to pasta!

  17. Great looking dish! Artichokes always frightened me. I finally steamed some, not too bad.

  18. This looks awesome – super fancy and I love artichokes!

  19. Haha aw! I’ve never cooked artichoke before, but my mom has made it several times. You’ll get it right, don’t worry 🙂

  20. vanillasugar says:

    isn’t the humidity fabulous? i mean coming back from cali to this crap? a huge diff.
    did you ever see what i made with cheese, artichokes when they met mr garlic bread?

  21. Veronica says:

    Oh, Joanne, I would be devestated after ruining that many artichokes! I’m so sorry it didn’t turn out for you–that blows! You can reassure yourself by looking back on all your past successes (both culinary and medical-related)–you’re brilliant! Perhaps the artichokes themselves were to blame. Sub-par artichokes!

  22. Yum yum yum! What a beautiful looking dish too!

  23. Stephanie says:

    Total bummer that this didn’t turn out well, because it looks delish. I’ve never cooked with a baby artichoke, but had no idea they were very different than “adults.” Learn something new every day.

    P.S. Good luck with that pager!

  24. Amy says:

    Wait until you’re on call for 48 hours straight. Or get paged at 2 in the morning. Good times. (I say this like I know what I’m talking about.)

    Believe it or not I’ve never cooked with baby artichokes either. What made this inedible? Were the so small that you cut all the meat away by accident? Hm. Back in college, when I lived with my sister, we used to buy the big kind at the market, steam them and then sit on the couch and eat them with butter and mayo. And chat. For hours. Those were good time (sarcasm omitted.)

    p.s. bring on the 90 degrees dammit! We’re having an unusually cool Sacramento spring and I’m feeling robbed.

  25. Thanks to delicious dinners in my family’s home, the only way I’ve really eaten artichokes is dipped in mayo. That’s probably not too This recipe looks like a nice alternative!

  26. brandi says:

    i am still totally scared to buy whole artichokes. this might change that.

  27. Well I’ve never tried my hand a baby artichokes. For the longest time I lived in towns and cities where the grocery store didn’t sell them. Hence the reason they always seemed exotic to me. However we do have some available now. I should go flail about and figure this process out.

  28. Mo 'Betta says:

    I’ve never touched an artichoke, other than maybe picking one up in the store saying “what the heck do you do with this thing?” – so if you ruined them…I don’t think I’ll be attempting them anytime soon! I use to hate being on call, you can’t enjoy your time off b/c you keep waiting for the stupid pager to go off. Maybe that’s what happened with the artichokes! Yep, it’s the pager’s fault 😉

  29. Catherine says:

    Dear Joanne, I am a lover of artichokes and this recipe is to the point. It is simple yet delicious. Have a wonderful, blessed day. Catherine xo

  30. Tasha says:

    Oh what a shame these little guys were inedible! It sounds like such a fabulous recipe. I think I might be scared to work with the baby variety after your experience though.

  31. It’s truly unbelievable that this amazing looking dish did not taste good? What was wrong with the artichokes…you have me wondering.

  32. Oh my gosh, do Dr’s still carry pagers? I never see any of the guys I work with with anything but their Iphones and Blackberry’s. 😉

    I wouldn’t blame yourself about the whole artichoke debunkle I’m sure it was the artichoke’s fault. You know I’ve cooked them many times and once or twice they just wern’t edible for some unknown reason. Plants are weird that way. 😉

  33. kelly says:

    Ummm… love spring pasta and this one looks delicious – particularly like the addition of artichoke. Very pretty blog!

  34. Mmm, this looks delish! I have to say though, I definitely have a fear of cooking with artichokes. I frankly, have no idea what I’m supposed to do with them….like which parts are edible and which arent. I tried getting the bag of frozen artichoke hearts and that was fine, but maybe I should try out the fresh…you make it look so good!

  35. Pam says:

    Your posts never fail to put a smile on my face… thanks – I needed that today.

    I am thinking the pasta would be terrific – I love all the ingredients.

  36. Great post! How can one ruin artichokes? I wish I could find baby artichokes– and I live 20 minutes from the artichoke capitol (Castroville, CA). I love those thistles! 90 degree weather? Seriously? It’s freakin’ raining today. 60 degrees, and that’s as heat wave-ish as we’re gettin’. I can’t help but think of Grey’s Anatomy when you talk about pagers. C’mon. Is is really like Hollywood portrays? I hope so! for your sake.

  37. Baby Artichokes are the best! I can’t believe you’ve ruined them, I’m so sorry. The dish look amazing, I would never guess it was inedible.

    Camila F.

  38. You are funny!! Good that it was 3 PM and not 1 AM 🙂 Okay..I have never cooked with artichokes though I love the grilled chicken and artichoke pasta at claim jumper. There something about the way they look that I feel I wont be able to handle them..
    And abt the Deal..I m all in ..come to vegas 🙂

  39. Mary says:

    I am lovin’ this one, Joanne. I adore artichokes and this pasta is my kind of meal. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  40. Corina says:

    I remember the first time I had artichokes. I was about 16 on a school French exchange. I’d never seen one before and had no idea how to eat it and so was chewing through the tough leaves and swallowing them. Trying to be polite, not wanting to show a lack of knowledge/culture. Someone then commented that I had an unusual way of eating an artichoke. I’ve been too embarrassed to try one ever since!

  41. Sorry to hear that. I’ve heard of many entrepreneurs who became successful after making mistakes (and learning from it). You can reflect on these mistakes bit later when you are a well known chef:) Then you will be able to peel the artichokes with your eyes closed.

  42. I wouldn’t be so sure that it’s you. The last two recipes I’ve made from cooking light were really bad. I’ve heard the same from a few other people. Not to mention, I’m so curious what made this inedible?

  43. Swathi says:

    I haven’t cooked artichokes, I need too. Pasta looks awesome.

  44. daphne says:

    ooo I love it! You did get there in the end with the artichokes! bet it was worth it 😉

  45. sophia says:

    You have more artichokes than pasta. That’s my kind of bowl! LOVE artichokes. 😀

  46. sofia says:

    this post cracks me up. if only more food bloggers joked about sex (errr artichokes?) in their posts. if only. siiiigh.

  47. teresa says:

    oh how beautiful, and delish. i need to cook with ‘tichokes more often, they’re so good.

  48. Claudia says:

    A delectable way to serve the artichokes and asparagus. Two of my favorite veggies, and with pasta too. Can’t go wrong on this one.

  49. OohLookBel says:

    I’ve never cooked with fresh artichokes before, so maybe it’s time to start. Your dish looks so fresh and lovely. By the way, I used to carry a pager for post-2am support. Driving to work in the middle of the night is not fun.

  50. Amy says:

    Jo, you are SO BRAVE–with the artichokes AND the pager. I would’ve had the same reaction to the pager (question: why don’t hospitals use a texting service with a special alerting device/alarm yet?) Artichokes scare the living daylights out of me, so I’m proud that you even tried. I would’ve never guessed it was inedible from the pics, you master of disguise. 😉

  51. Such a great dish. Stop doubting your skills 😉 everything you make is amazing!

  52. Reeni says:

    They don’t look ruined! But I’m sorry that happened to something so stinkin’ delicious looking! I would weep.

  53. tigerfish says:

    I do enjoy artichokes but somehow I do not enjoy preparing them – it’s quite troublesome! 🙁

  54. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    Your pasta looks so beautiful 🙂 I have no idea about artichokes. I have never tried making them.

  55. SassyAgapi says:

    those artichokes look awesome!

  56. theUngourmet says:

    I rarely buy whole artichokes. In fact, I can only think of a couple of times and both times I just steamed them and ate the leaves…or whatever they’re called, dipped in butter. I haven’t tried using the hearts. Your pasta sure is pretty!

    A pager…How exciting is that! You’re almost there, Dr. Eats Well with Others. 😉

  57. sra says:

    It looks fabulous. What did you do with it? Guess you could eat the rest but not the artichokes!

  58. Ruth says:

    As usual, you gave me my first good laugh of the day. And as usual, you serve up a great dish. Since I haven’t got the courage up yet to work with fresh artichokes… other than to boil them and dip the leaves in some delicious vinaigrette… I can’t help with the dilemma. Perhaps some Presto Pasta fans will help us both.

  59. Raina says:

    That looks great! My kind of pasta dish. You are going to make an amazing doctor someday I can tell. In the beginning it must be so difficult to get used to all that life-saving stuff though…lol

    I have not tips on baby artichokes, other than that I usually use canned or jarred artichoke hearts and leave the fresh artichokes to Nonni:) Yours look so good; I will have togive those little beauties a try.

  60. Kim says:

    It doesn’t look like you ruined the artichokes! In fact the whole meal looks delicious, some of my favorite things going on in there. I say buy some more and try it again. Conquer the artichoke 🙂

  61. Hey I host a blog hop and I’d LOVE if you came over and shared a recipe! Here’s the link 🙂

  62. This looks and sounds like my “dream” pasta dish – asparagus, artichokes and lemons. There are no three things I would rather have, together, and with my pasta. Sorry your artichokes didn’t turn out so well – they look perfect, and it sounds as though you did all the right things. My advice – try again 🙂
    Sue xo

  63. That Girl says:

    I’m so excited for the day when your pager goes off for reals and you confidently call the hospital to give your expert consultation!

  64. You are not alone, my first time was a dissappointment too . . .with artichokes I mean. Giada de Laurentiis made these beautiful stuffed artichokes on her show a few years ago. And mine didn’t look bad, but were totally unedible. A few tough bites and they went straight into the trash.

  65. Shannon says:

    haha, i tried a couple (real) artichokes last year… and was disappointed. so i’ve stuck to the canned variety and been just fine 🙂

  66. Kalyn says:

    My condolences on the pager!

    The baby artichokes sold me on this. I rarely see those here, but when I do I can never resist buying them.

  67. Dana says:

    I do have artichoke skills! I do! It took a lot of practice but I do now know my way around an artichoke. It’s hard to tell what went wrong here (it certainly looks pretty), but I think you did not trim off enough leaves and, even though these are babies, it looks like you probably should have removed the choke. Artichokes are really awful if they have not been cooked enough, so be sure to cook them (saute, steam, whatever) until they are really fork tender at their thickest part – near the stem. When you visit we will do an artichoke tutorial.

  68. It’s about time I learned how to cook artichokes and I can’t think of a fresher or more delicious place to start.

  69. girlichef says:

    I love artichokes…but I do not make them at home. I think they’re too much work. Could stem from the fact that I used to have to prep them daily in the restaurant. Pain. However…YUM! Redemption 😉

  70. I have artichoke fears too. I think we are at a disadvantage – they send us northerners the tiny, unusable ones and save the tender fat ones for themselves… that must be it! 😉
    When you find the secret – let me know!

  71. Oh my goodness, you can’t be as much of a fresh artichoke virgin as myself. I just planted my first choke plants and am already intimidated! But anyhow, no matter about that, your presentation of this recipe is simply divine, my friend. You have talent beyond so many! I am so glad that your posts are delivered straight to my inbox of email! And apologize for my 2 2 week vacay absence, first week of summer school teaching start up and this past weekend with my daughter. I am truly trying to catch up with my fave blogs! Please consider someday, to share one of your delish recipe posts on my weekend foodie blog get-togethers! I’d be honored! Hugs (and I’d throw that durn pager in the corner too!) Roz

  72. Chris says:

    So what was inedible about them, the taste, texture or what? They look good but I know looks can be deceiving.

    I had a food failure yesterday too….inedible pimento cheese. NEVER use smoked cheese for that. Ewwwwww. ickity ick.

  73. A well-cooked artichoke is a thing of beauty and so delicious. It’s like a glass of champagne – a special treat but those stems and chokes can be brutal! I don’t think I could eat a fresh artichoke any other way than boiled with the leaves dipped into melted butter.

  74. For a dish like this I would probably take the easy way out and make it with (oh horrors!) good canned artichokes. I’m lazy like that. 😉

  75. Sorry to hear this didn’t work out! I’ve never attempted to do anything with fresh artichokes so I applaud your effort. One day I will be brave!

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