This delicious recipe for creamy, tomato-basil-artichoke sauce is from Nadean, a dear family friend, who was like an aunt to me growing up (I have great photos from the '80s of the two of us together in some truly magnificent puff-sleeve dresses--I was the flower girl in her wedding). I ran across her handwritten 3 x 5 recipe card recently while looking through some family recipes.  Nadean originally called for 4 ounces of prosciutto or cooked ham in this recipe; you can also add chopped grilled chicken (at the end) with good results.  You can fiddle with the ratio of tomatoes to artichokes if you feel like it, and add more cream.  If you don't like ham, you can substitute sliced mushrooms (about 1/3 cup sliced) as you sauté the onions, and splash in a little red wine.  This is a really great recipe, and even better, it's easy! It's kind of like grown-up mac n' cheese when served with a nice red wine.  I wouldn't recommend freezing any leftovers, though: cooked noodles don't freeze well.

Serves 4


4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 white onion, minced (for a total of about 1/3 cup minced onion)
26 ounces diced/chopped tomatoes, no salt or herbs added (I cook with Pomi, with good results--this is one box)
12 ounce can grilled artichoke hearts, drained and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup chopped cooked ham or Canadian bacon, nitrite-free
1/2 tsp. dry basil (use more if you substitute fresh basil, and chop finely)
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (if you're running low on cream, you can substitute 1/4 cup cream plus 1/4 cup whole-fat sour cream here, works fine)

3/4 pound linguine noodles


For the noodles: fill a medium stockpot with lid about 2/3rd full of water, add a little salt, and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to low, put a lid on to keep the water simmering, and hold off on starting the noodles until later on in the recipe. Dice onion and set aside in a small bowl.  In an 11-inch, 4-quart saucepan with lid (having a big skillet with sides is important, since you'll be mixing the noodles into the sauce at the end.  Or, if you don't have a high-sided skillet, go the other route and pour the sauce over the noodles in their stock pot), melt butter over medium heat and add onions.  Sauté until soft, 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. While you're watching the onions, trim the hard leaves off artichoke hearts (as needed) and chop into bite-sized pieces--just toss them in with the onions as you go.  Stir in tomatoes, ham, basil, and pepper (no cream yet), and bring to a boil; lower heat, cover with lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Stir every so often to make sure it's not burning.

When the sauce is nearly done simmering, bring the water for noodles back up to a boil.  Add noodles and cook according to the package directions for whatever type you use (I like linguine or fettuccini with this recipe).  

Once the noodles are nearly done, you can add the cream to the artichoke sauce: pour in and heat through gently, but don't let it come to a boil.  Try a little bit of the sauce and see if it needs more basil or pepper.  Cover saucepan again with lid, and allow to cook gently for another 8 minutes or so.  The sauce will thicken up slightly as it cooks after you add the cream.

When the noodles are done, drain them and then carefully transfer them (minus any cooking liquid in the bottom of the stockpot) into the pan with the sauce.  Stir the whole thing up gently, until the noodles are thoroughly coated with sauce...think of it like mixing up mac n' cheese, and you've got the idea.    

Serve on large plates, top with parmesan and chili pepper flakes, and enjoy!