Spicy Artichoke Sauce with Tortellini

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My foodie friend, Kim T, first made this for me when I had foot surgery many years ago.  I immediately asked for the recipe as it was so good and flavorful that I knew I had to add it to my repertoire.  I’ve adapted it a bit by adding more artichokes plus some fresh herbs. Don’t be surprised by the amount of black pepper – part of the spice comes from that (plus the red pepper flakes).

Kim made it for me with tortellini so that has always been my go-to pasta for this recipe, but it really works with any pasta. Years ago Trader Joe’s used to make a frozen artichoke tortellini which I used with this sauce – that was divine. The more artichokes the better in my book. I like to double this recipe so that I can eat some of the sauce fresh and freeze some as well. It is also equally good served straight from the stove or at room temperature.

At some point I realized that the recipe had originated in The Silver Palate Cookbook which is a treasure of great recipes, so it’s not surprising that I liked it so much. I recently told Kim this and she had never realized its origin as a friend had passed along the recipe to her.

Spicy Artichoke Sauce with Tortellini



Spicy Artichoke Sauce with Tortellini
4.5 from 2 reviews
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 8 (2 pounds of pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped/minced
  • ¼ cup basil (dried), plus a handful of fresh basil, chopped (if you have it)
  • ½ tablespoon oregano (dried), plus a handful of fresh oregano, chopped (if you have it)
  • ½ cup Italian parsley (fresh), chopped
  • ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 jars marinated artichoke hearts, halved or quartered; drained and reserve marinade (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 can plain (packed in water) artichoke hearts (8-10 count), drained and chopped
  • ¼ cup Romano cheese, grated
  • 2 pounds of cheese tortellini or other short pasta
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan.
  2. Add onion, garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, and red pepper flakes and cook for about 5 minutes until onion is soft.
  3. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmer uncovered about 45 minutes.
  4. Add artichoke marinade only; simmer 30 minutes.
  5. Stir in artichokes (marinated and plain) and simmer about 20 minutes.
  6. Add Romano cheese and season to taste.
  7. Cook pasta according to directions.
  8. Serve hot or cold over tortellini or short pasta.
* Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.
* Sauce can be frozen once it cools.
* If you can find artichoke tortellini, substitute it for the cheese tortellini.


Source:  Adapted from Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins’ The Silver Palate Cookbook (1982)


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  1. Tis sounds amazing I love artichokes and yesterday, at the market in Venice, found artichoke bottoms for sale! They are my favorite part and someone else did all the work! I bet this recipe could be make using them! ~ David

  2. Susie McCawley says:

    Yum! Served this on fresh artichoke and fontina ravioli from our local shop–Pasta Vita. A little sauce goes a long way because it’s so flavorful. However, I only used 1 Tbsp. of dried basil and a handful of fresh basil from my garden. Nicole, did you really mean 1/4 cup of dried basil? I was afraid to try that much.

    • Susie – The original recipe really does call for 1/4 cup of dried basil. I thought the same thing about it being too much when I first made it, but it works. So glad you liked the recipe! And, your pasta sounds fabulous.

  3. Susie McCawley says:

    I just resurrected this recipe again to use tomatoes and basil from my garden. It was delicious on just regular penne, but my new discovery was to use the leftover sauce to make a pizza topped with smokey mozzarella.