Lemon Butter Pasta with Artichokes and Capers

Lemon Butter Pasta with Artichokes and Capers - Easy Flavorful Meatless Meal by Tori Avey

With Passover officially coming to an end, a spring-inspired pasta dish seemed like the perfect way to celebrate our return to leavened grains. I was inspired to include artichokes in this recipe after seeing them fill the shelves of our local market. Artichokes are my very favorite vegetable. As a California girl I’ve grown up surrounded by these funny, prickly, delicious things. We even had them growing in our yard when I was a child. They were recently declared California’s Official Vegetable by the governor, which made me happier than you might imagine. I really do love my artichokes!

The artichoke’s journey to California began on the East coast where French allied soldiers introduced them to America during the Revolutionary War. Globe artichokes began appearing in Virginia around the 1720s. In California, the artichoke was not seen as a favorable cash crop until the 1890s, when Italian farmers planted them in Half Moon Bay. By 1904, they were filling boxcars with artichokes to send to the East coast. In 1922, Italian farmers moved their artichokes to California’s Salinas Valley. The town of Castroville designated itself the “Artichoke Capital of the World” and hosts a yearly artichoke festival. No, I haven’t been. Yes, it’s on my bucket list!

Salinas is also where Marilyn Monroe was crowned the very first Artichoke Queen on February 28, 1948 by the California Artichoke & Vegetable Growers Corporation. As the story goes, artichoke farmers Edward Modena, Enrico Bellone and Randy Barsotti spotted a young Ms. Monroe endorsing diamonds at a local jewelry shop. They asked her to tour the artichoke farm, fed her a lunch of freshly cooked artichoke hearts, and soon after honored her with a sash that declared her to be “Queen of the Artichokes.” With the amount of artichokes I eat every year, I think I well deserve my own royal sash.

You can use canned or freshly cooked artichoke hearts in this recipe. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to prepare the hearts on your own, check out this post:

All About Artichokes – Cleaning, Prep and Cooking Tutorials

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Lemon Butter Pasta with Artichokes and Capers - Easy Flavorful Meatless Meal by Tori Avey

Lemon Butter Pasta with Artichokes and Capers


  • 8 oz angel hair (capellini) or spaghetti pasta
  • 8 oz (about 2 cups) quartered artichoke hearts, frozen, canned or steamed till tender
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup shallots, minced
  • 3 tbsp capers, rinsed
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, optional (adds spice)
  • Heaping 1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • 5 tbsp lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley, divided

You will also need

  • Large sauteuse or sauce pan
Total Time: 25 Minutes
Servings: 4
Kosher Key: Dairy
  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse under cool water for a moment or two to keep the noodles loose. Reserve. In a large sauteuse, saute or sauce pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add artichokes and cover. Cook until thawed (if frozen) and slightly browned. Once browned, remove the artichokes from the pan and reserve.
  • Lemon Butter Pasta with Artichokes and CapersUsing the same pan, heat 6 tbsp of butter over medium high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the shallots, capers, lemon zest, optional crushed red pepper and salt. Cook until the shallots are translucent. Carefully add the lemon juice and cook until a sauce develops. This will happen quickly.
  • Lemon Butter Pasta with Artichokes and CapersAdd the cooked pasta, 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley and the artichokes to the pan. Toss to evenly coat. If the pasta seems too dry, add water, 1 tbsp at a time, to loosen it a bit. It should not be thick or heavy, the noodles should be lightly coated with lemon butter. Add additional butter, salt and lemon to taste, if desired.
  • Lemon Butter Pasta with Artichokes and CapersServe hot and garnish with remaining fresh chopped parsley.
  • Lemon Butter Pasta with Artichokes and Capers - Easy Flavorful Meatless Meal by Tori Avey

Comments (46)Post a Comment

    1. Debbie Cardwell feel free to use frozen or canned, no need to fuss with the whole artichoke. If, however, you are someday feeling adventurous, I have full tutorials that will demystify the artichoke in all its spiny glory: link to theshiksa.com

  1. Ditto to what Jay D’Lugin said! I sauteed a few mushrooms with the artichokes and cooked the pasta in the same water I steamed the artichokes in. Another perfect meal a la Tori.

  2. I don’t really care for capers. Aside from just omitting them, is there something you can substitute? I realize they add a unique flavor, so that’s why I’m asking for a substitute. Thank you!

    1. Hi Pam, try some sliced ripe green olives as a sub. They’ll give the same salty punch but they’re more subtle than the capers. If you can’t find ripe green olives, ripe black olives will also work. Enjoy!

    1. You’re welcome Pam! Try to find the ripe green olives if you can rather than Greek-style, although they would work too the ripe ones tend to have a more salty brine.

  3. Uh oh, hold the presses. Are you saying that the green olives like with pimento, aren’t ripe green olives?

    1. Yup! They’re different. :) Their flavor is much more like black olives. Most grocery stores carry them, but if you have trouble finding then substitute black olives– they’ll be much better than the pimento variety in this particular recipe.

  4. Well I learned something new today. :) Thanks for taking the time to educate me. I really had no idea there was a difference.

  5. I made this tonight and it was a big hit. I sautéed the artichokes in lemon olive oil from the farmers market to add extra flavor. The lemons and pasta also came from the market, so it was a very fresh summer meal. Thanks for the easy to follow recipe steps.

  6. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I have made this recipe at least once a month for the past 6 months and it is fantastic. I use about twice the amount of capers though, because my wife absolutely loves them.

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