Pasta with Artichoke Hearts, Pesto, and Lemon
This fresh Pesto Pasta with Artichoke Hearts and lemon is an elegant vegetarian meal that is packed with flavor. The light pesto cream sauce finishes off a well-balanced dish that is ready in just 20 minutes.
Prefer a low-carb version? Make this pesto artichoke chicken instead!
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This simple, delicious pasta dish has artichoke hearts, a light pesto cream sauce, plenty of fresh lemon, and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Best of all, it uses canned artichoke hearts for easy prep and year-round availability, and can be on the table in about 20 minutes. (Seriously!)
Ingredient Notes & Common Substitutions
- Rotini: Or substitute penne, linguini, spaghetti, or any other pasta you love.
- Lemon: Fresh is best here, for maximum flavor and zip, plus the appealing garnish of a lemon wedge at the end. Bottled juice, however, will work in a pinch.
- Cream: Heavy or light cream will work to enrich the sauce, or substitute half and half.
- Artichoke Hearts: Use canned artichoke hearts that have been drained well and quickly rinsed. Do not substitute frozen artichoke hearts here; they are too watery and will make the sauce too thin.
- White Wine, Chicken, or Vegetable Broth: Use whichever you prefer and have on hand.
- Pesto: The star of the sauce! Use homemade or your favorite store-bought.
What is the best brand of store-bought pesto?
Most store-bought brands are good for a recipe like this, where the pesto will be mixed in with other ingredients to form a sauce. Our favorite is always DeLallo. Not sponsored, just true love.
How to make pesto from scratch?
If you have an extra five minutes and a food processor, you can make pesto from scratch! Use this traditional basil pesto with a hint of lemon zest for a classic, or give this zucchini basil pesto a spin for a nutritional boost and clever way to use up a bounty of summer zucchini.
How To Make Pasta with Artichoke Hearts
Begin by cooking the pasta just to al dente, being sure to add a generous amount of salt to the cooking water before adding the pasta. It should be salty like the sea; this infuses the pasta with a subtle, pleasing flavor – even before it is tossed with the sauce.
The sauce comes together very quickly. Begin by sautéing a bit of garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat. Use a skillet that is large enough to hold the sauce and the pasta – this will save you from having to dirty an extra pan when combining everything at the end.
Just after the garlic is fragrant, but before it begins to turn a deep brown color, add the white wine or broth and bring liquid to a rapid simmer. Add the pesto, cream, and Parmesan, and stir well.
Now this is looking like the pesto cream sauce of your dreams!
Stir in the artichoke hearts, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. I usually begin by adding 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and about 8 cranks of fresh-ground black pepper. It’s important, though, to sample the sauce at this point and add more salt and pepper to taste. Everyone’s preference is different!
Let this sauce simmer at this point for a couple of minutes to meld the flavors and warm the artichokes through.
Lastly, stir in the drained pasta and toss well.
Lemon wedges, more Parmesan, more black pepper, and a few sprigs of fresh basil make this look as good as it tastes, but all are optional if you’re in a rush!
Should you rinse canned artichoke hearts?
Yes! Canned artichoke hearts usually come packed in a solution of water with salt and citric acid that is included as a preservative. It is considered best practice to not only drain the packed water, but to gently rinse the artichokes to remove the salt and citric acid.
I confess I did not personally know this until I researched this recipe, so I have not been rinsing my canned artichoke hearts prior to this. Live and learn!
Are artichokes good for you?
Artichokes are indeed good for you, and have even garnered the “superfood” label at times, primarily owing to their high levels of antioxidants. Although typically thought of as a vegetable, the portion of artichokes that we eat are technically a flower or thistle that is low in fat, high in fiber, and contains vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, phosphorus, and magnesium.
This simple pasta lends itself well to lots of variations and add-ins. A few ideas:
- Add more green veg: Toss a handful of baby spinach or baby arugula to the skillet for extra color, flavor, and nutrition. Add it just after stirring in the artichokes.
- Add protein: Add pre-cooked shredded or chopped chicken, shrimp, or bacon for an extra element of taste and heartiness. Add this along with the artichokes. If using raw shrimp, cook them in the pan before making the sauce, then remove and add back in with the artichokes.
- Change up the pesto: Switch out a traditional pesto for a vibrant sun-dried tomato version.
Serve up this pasta for a hearty vegetarian main with a simple spinach or arugula salad on the side, or serve it alongside baked Italian dressing chicken for a delicious yet out of the ordinary Italian-inspired dinner. Need another vegetable side? Steamed green beans are our favorite.
As written, this recipe makes four average portions; it’s easy to increase the amount of pasta and sauce, depending on how many you are serving and how hungry you think they might be!
This recipe tastes best when served just after it’s made, but leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and can be quickly and easily warmed in the microwave or on the stovetop.
More Quick and Easy Vegetarian Pastas
Looking for more easy meatless pasta dishes? Try my lemon broccoli pasta, baked ravioli with spinach, pesto rigatoni with toasted walnuts, and this easy tortellini with mushrooms, butter, and Parmesan. All super fast dishes that please a crowd.
If you try this Pasta with Artichoke Hearts and Pesto, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.
Pasta with Artichoke Hearts, Pesto, and Lemon
- 8 ounces rotini or another pasta shape
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/3 cup dry white wine or chicken or vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup pesto
- 1/4 cup cream heavy or light, or half and half
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 (14 ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts drained
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice plus wedges for garnish
- Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a generous pinch of salt, followed by the pasta. Cook just to al dente, according to package directions, then drain and set aside.
- While pasta cooks, warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds, just until fragrant. Add white wine or broth, then bring liquid to a rapid simmer.
- Add the pesto, followed by the cream and Parmesan, stirring into a smooth sauce. Add artichoke hearts, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 8-10 cranks of fresh-ground black pepper. Stir well, then let the sauce simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Add drained pasta to the skillet, stirring well to coat. Serve with lemon wedges, additional Parmesan, and fresh basil leaves, as desired.
- Store-bought Pesto: Most store-bought brands are good for a recipe like this, where the pesto will be mixed in with other ingredients to form a sauce. Our favorite is always DeLallo.
- Homemade Pesto: If you have an extra five minutes, you can make pesto from scratch! Use this traditional basil pesto with a hint of lemon zest for a classic, or give this zucchini basil pesto a spin for a nutritional boost and clever way to use up a bounty of summer zucchini.