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Always Time for Pasta : Artichokes, Ham Add Zest to Pasta

July 09, 1987|KAREN GILLINGHAM | Gillingham is a Los Angeles-based food writer. and

Pasta is one food trend that will always stay current, in this cook's book. You can't catch me with a blackened fish recipe or one using squid ink, but I'll cook a plate of pasta anytime and always.

Pasta isn't anything new to this country. We've been eating spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, chicken and noodles and buttered noodles at least since I was 3 years old. And what about noodles romanoff, beef stroganoff over noodles and noodles amandine that were trends in the '60s?

We've been introduced to a few new shapes and innovative sauces, but when those who set food trends started publishing recipes for fettuccine Alfredo, didn't anyone recognize it as just a free-form macaroni and cheese? Big deal if they garnished it with a few perfect peas.

A Sauce Invention

It doesn't matter. I'm just glad new pasta shapes and new pasta sauces are still being imported or invented, trendy or not. And here's my contribution to the sauce inventions, inspired by a non-trendy friend (she's her own kind of woman, a great cook who never prepares anything fashionable).

Actually, her recipe wasn't a pasta dish at all. It was a sort of casserole of artichokes, mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic and Parmesan cheese. She served it as a spread for the familiar round crackers I've eaten as long as I've eaten macaroni and cheese--a long time.

In appreciation, I should invite her over for my version, although she might not guess that her recipe lighted the fire under mine. I changed the garlic to shallots, the sour cream to sweet whipping cream and the mayonnaise to mustard. I did keep the artichokes and Parmesan, but added julienned ham. And I serve it over fettuccine, not crackers.


2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons chopped shallots

1 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 cup julienned ham

2 (7-ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained

Grated Parmesan cheese

Salt, pepper

12 ounces fettuccine, cooked and drained

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute until tender. Add cream and mustard and stir to blend well.

Stir in ham and artichoke hearts. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 4 to 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and cook 2 minutes longer or until cheese melts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add fettuccine and toss to mix. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese to sprinkle over top. Makes 4 servings.

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