pasta and artichokes.

Recently, I decided life was meaningless without a Panini Press. If I can’t have a machine that makes food equal parts crunchy/melty AND also doubles as an indoor grill, then I don’t care to breathe. Extreme? Not at ALL. This may be the part of me that’s overcome with a professional infatuation for Giada speaking, though. Everything she makes on there looks INSANE. I once saw her make a pear and taleggio panini, and immediately called my parents to rave about the inventiveness. Then, I made them both swear up and down that by the next time I visit, they would have a platter of them waiting for me. They assumed it was a JOKE (it most certainly was not), but that’s neither here nor there.

I ordered this off Amazon late last week, and it was waiting for me Tuesday. (I knew you’d never keep me waiting, my new reason for continual aspiration). I almost wet myself, but luckily I refrained. That could have been dangerous around electronics. Instead, I made a little dessert panini (camembert and dried cranberries on a biscuit) and called it a night. Wednesday’s night din would make full use of my new toy.

Wednesdays are always a late night for me, because I take hip hop, so I’m never home before 9 p.m. My teacher prefers to walk the fine line between “gangsta” combos (I’m horrid at those), and those inspired by trannies. Last night was all about the trannies, so I nailed it. And, after purposely letting the over-eager boy band hopeful next to me overstep his space during the warm up, I had plenty of personal space. Success.

I planned to make pappardelle pasta, which is really just obese fettuccine, with roasted vegetables. Then, I would do my Press justice by making fire-roasted artichokes, courtesy of this recipe by Mario Batali. The artichokes are supposed to take about an hour to cook, so I made and ate my pasta first. How Italian is THAT?!

I chopped some zucchini and red onions, and tossed in olive oil, fresh thyme (dry seasonings will burn), and salt and pepper. Then, I threw them in the oven for 15 minutes at 450 degrees to roast. The thyme is seriously not to be overlooked. That is one herby and delicious smelling spice. I boiled my pasta in the meantime, and once my veggies were just the right amount shriveled and delicious, I tossed them all together with some pecorino romano cheese. I can’t decide if this pic looks great or gross, but see below for my first course:

primi: whole wheat pappardelle w/ zucchini and red onions

primi: whole wheat pappardelle w/ zucchini and red onions

It was goooood. Despite appearances. Afterward, I set to work on my artichokes. The prep is super easy, as Mario instructs you to just blend all the seasonings in a food processor, and then mix in almonds and chili flakes. I was halfing the recipe and using dried rather than fresh oregano (which is wayyy more potent, according to my dad), so I only added about 1/4 of a cup of that. Anything else would constitute a “shitload,” and no one wants THAT. I stayed true to the rest, though. See your immediate right:

artichoke innards

artichoke innards

Lovely, no? I plugged in the Press, and started opening the artichokes like flowers, per Batali’s instruction. HOW much does this remind you of a Georgia O’Keefe?:

artichoke, pre-fire roasting

artichoke, pre-fire roasting

Try and put the anatomy imagery out of your head, and just enjoy its beauty. I stuffed the little O’Keefe’s with the almond seasoning mixture, doused each in olive oil, and placed on the heated grill.

mid-grill stuffed artichokes

mid-grill stuffed artichokes

When all was said and done, I cooked them for prob about 15-20 min on each side. An hour seemed a little excessive to me. I topped with some hot jack cheese, and served with some spicy deli mustard. So good! Thanks, Mario.

Fire-roasted artichoke with almonds

Fire-roasted artichoke with almonds


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