Spaghetti with artichokes and hazelnuts comes together in a snap. And it really delivers in terms of flavor. You’re gonna love the combination of baby artichokes, crunchy hazelnuts, chile flakes, fennel seeds, Parmesan, and a squeeze of lemon. It’s outstanding.
The key to a flavor-packed spaghetti made from pantry ingredients is making the most of the garlic. We mince our garlic to make sure that all of it cooks at the same rate. Toasting the garlic over low heat in 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil ensures that it cooks to a pale golden brown. Any darker and its flavor goes from delicately buttery and sweet to bitter and harsh.–America’s Test Kitchen
WHY DO YOU USE PASTA WATER TO THIN PASTA SAUCE?
This recipe from America’s Test Kitchen asks you to reserve the water you boiled your pasta in and then tells you to add it back in. But why? As long as you’re not boiling your pasta in gallons and gallons of water, the leftover water will be filled with the starch that’s been boiled off your noodles.
And that water–we’ve heard it called “liquid gold” before–is the secret to thinning out sauces and adding an extra velvety touch to your pasta dishes. Full of starch and salt (and it’s already warm), it emulsifies with the other ingredients in your sauce to help it cling to the noodles, as well as adding a creamier texture and depth of flavor.
Spaghetti with Artichokes and Hazelnuts
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 pound spaghetti
- Table salt for cooking pasta
- 2 cups (12 oz) jarred whole baby artichoke hearts packed in water rinsed, patted dry, and chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup (1 oz) grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup blanched hazelnuts toasted and chopped
- In a nonstick skillet over low heat, cook 1/4 cup oil and garlic, stirring occasionally, until garlic is pale golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in fennel seeds and pepper flakes.
- Add artichokes, lemon juice, garlic-oil mixture, and 1 cup of reserved cooking water to pasta in the pot. Stir until pasta is well coated with oil and no water remains in the bottom of the pot. If the pasta seems dry, drizzle in additional cooking water.
- Add Parmesan and hazelnuts and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve, passing extra Parmesan separately.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This elegant spaghetti with artichokes and hazelnuts really wowed us with its flavor. Everything from the anise-flavor of the fennel seed, the fruity taste of the olive oil, heat from the chile flakes, to the sweetness of the cooked garlic (my mouth is watering as we speak) was a phenomenal combination for a simple pasta sauce. Those flavors, plus the sour flavor of the artichoke hearts and lemon juice, buttery crunch from the nuts, and the salty taste from the Parmesan really came together beautifully and simply.
Although perfect as is, if you wanted to add some protein to the pasta, I could see buttery white beans or Italian chicken sausage slices working well with these flavors. At the end of cooking and before serving, I felt the need to add more olive oil to help spread out the sauce to all of the cooked pasta.
This easily serves 4-6 people just depending on how big a serving everyone wants. I served mine with some sautéed sugar snap peas, but I could see a simple green salad or asparagus going well with it, too.
Don’t we all love quick, reliably filling, and timeless dishes? I love spaghetti all’aglio e olio (or spaghetti with garlic and chile flakes) for those reasons, and I think of this spaghetti with artichokes and hazelnuts as a great version 2. Garlic, red pepper flakes, artichokes, and Parmesan cheese—they're all familiar affairs in the pasta cosmos, but the combination of fennel seeds and hazelnuts was new in my kitchen. The whiff and flavors of these new additions grew on me with every bite, I kept twirling my fork for more. And the yin and yang of tender artichoke hearts and crunchy nuts was another addictive combo here.
I only had raw hazelnuts, so I toasted them in a dry skillet (this was my first step, before frying garlic) on medium heat until the nuts were fragrant and the skin became darker brown and started to crack and tear. I dumped the nuts on a tea towel (you can use a paper towel), folded it over the nuts, and rubbed most of the skin off by hand. Sound fussy? Nah—the entire process took just under 10 minutes.
Originally published August 13, 2021