Artichoke Hearts Provencal Over Pasta

March 1, 2015
Artichoke Hearts Provencal Over Pasta - A subtle melange of fresh herbs, tomatoes, and artichokes, this dish evokes the feeling of a sunny late summer day in Provence.

Life Lesson # 4092 – Whatever you’re struggling with

Artichoke Hearts Provencal 6-650x

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there are others going through the same thing, and no matter how dark it looks at this moment, there will always a way out

Admittedly, the past few weeks have been out-of-the-norm for me.  Their events conjuring up memories from the past, the kind I’d done my best to compartmentalize, tied them neatly with a bow, tucked them away in the back of the closet, and simply carried on

The problem is, some of the things life brings are so profound that they can never truly be forgotten.  Instead, they become woven into the fabric of who you are and forever engrained in your soul.

Memories triggered when you’re least expecting it

Amy 6-650x

Photo Credit: Instagram – Amy Hild

The death of a fellow Iowa Blogger on an icy road

It’s been twenty-five years + since I had a life-altering accident of my own.  A perfect summer night (June 1987), trying desperately to make it home before the stroke of midnight.  I was going way to fast on a gravel road when my car began to skid.  I remember the terror of the moment, the feeling of not having control, hanging onto the steering wheel as tight as I could.

In the quiet moments after, I’d cautiously opened my eyes, and assessed the situation.  No blood, that was a good start.  “OK, you’re only a half a mile from home.  Nothing to see here.  You can walk the rest of the way.”

That is if my legs would just cooperate.

“Huh .. maybe I’ll lay here on the ground for just a bit and look at the stars.  They sure are pretty tonight.

God, please send someone soon.”

Artichoke Hearts Provencal Over Pasta - A subtle melange of fresh herbs, tomatoes, and artichokes, this dish evokes the feeling of a sunny late summer day in Provence.

The death of a child, incredibly dear friends my husband has known forever.

In the nearly two years since his passing, the specifics have never discussed.  This week an article about a brave mom (and friend!)  who’s become an advocate for medicine that can help in the event of an


Nearly eight years have passed since my son started using.  What started with cough syrup, turned into years of rehab.  Stories of trips gone bad.  Relationships broken beyond, what seemed like repair.  Endless nights lying awake, wondering where he was.  If he was hungry, cold, sober .. alive

“God, please, keep him safe, and protect his brain.”

Live For Today 5 - 600x

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The recent visit of someone truly beautiful.  The three of us opened a bottle of bubbly and talked of the ongoing struggles with her daughter.  That night has stayed close to my heart; it was the kind filled with wine, love, and warmth.

As I shared some of the things I’d learned during the darkest of times, I couldn’t help but feel grateful.  Having gotten to a place where I don’t feel like I have to pretend anymore.  The life I wasn’t proud of, the feelings I didn’t realize I harbored, the masks I didn’t realize I wore, the walls I didn’t realize I’d built.

Admittedly, it’s a habit I still gravitate toward, the need to hold a few things back.  Though I catch myself now, realizing it only feeds into a place I never want to go back to .. pretending.  I’m no longer interested in walking the well-paved road of “I’m ok, trust me on this”  

It’s humbling, of course.  I’d much prefer believing I’d created masterpieces with my facades. Layering brush-stroke after brush-stroke on paintings titled “Best Mom” .. “Woman Who Has It All Together” .. “100% Supportive Wife” .. or “Friend Who Will Always Be What You Need.”

The reality was, those were paintings that took considerable time to perfect, and I wasn’t about to tear down my Sistine Chapel in one setting.  I wasn’t willing to let my mascara streams taint the watercolors, making my seemingly vibrant perfection look all brown and muddied.

Artichoke Hearts Provencal Over Pasta - A subtle melange of fresh herbs, tomatoes, and artichokes, this dish evokes the feeling of a sunny late summer day in Provence.

And yet here we were, three wonderful women, a few glasses deep.  Sharing, and supporting, and empathizing, all while wondering why we don’t do this far more often.

Is it because we don’t want to be perceived as dramatic?  Or negative?  Or high-maintenance?  Do we silently worry that we’ll lose our friendships, and relationships because really isn’t the goal for everyone to just go along?  Play nice.  Sit down.  Be good.  Smile.

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, there was something powerful that happened when I started telling the truth.  When I simply said my life out loud and quit worrying about what others thought.  When I took down all of the artificial facades I’d put up, thinking I was fooling everyone, though realized they’d known more than I’d ever thought

This weekend has been one of quiet, Saturday morning sleep-ins, pancakes for breakfast, an afternoon matinee.  A time to begin again, the acknowledgment of life’s dark and messy moments, and the need to keep them in perspective.  Because the relentless anxiety of the troubled  teenager, long work weeks, family struggles, the broken heart, suffocating hopelessness are things we all face

I guarantee though, somewhere along the way, if we’re willing to look, there will always be a tiny hint of sunshine.  One that shines a bit brighter every time we let people in and tell the truth.

It’s the only one that will always show us the way out.

Spaghetti Saturdays 7-600x

She shared this recipe, one of her favorite sauces. “It would be a great addition to Spaghetti Saturdays.”

Indeed it was

To date, I hadn’t been much of an artichoke person.  They weren’t something I’d grown up with and didn’t know quite what to do with them.  So this recipe was a fun one to try, and without question one I’d make again

Adapted from The Artichoke Cafe in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The cookbook’s description describes it better than I ever could.

“A subtle melange of fresh herbs, tomatoes, and artichokes, this dish evokes the feeling of a sunny summer day in Provence.  Quite nice!”



ps:  More fun recipes and stories from Spaghetti Saturdays

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~ Adapted from The Natural Menu Cookbook by Jane Summerfield

Artichoke Hearts Provencal Over Pasta


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 (14 oz) jars quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • ¼ cup black olives, chopped
  • 2 cups tomatoes, chopped (~ 3 tomatoes), or 1 ½ cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 3 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or 1 Tbsp dried basil)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 2 tsp dried oregano)
  • a pinch fine grain sea salt + more to taste
  • a pinch freshly ground black pepper + more to taste
  • 1 lb thin spaghetti noodles (gluten-free if you’re avoiding gluten)


  • In a pan, over medium heat, add the oil, and garlic, and sauté less than 30 seconds.
  • Add the artichoke hearts, capers, olives, and tomatoes, and continue cooking until the tomatoes are soft
  • Add the wine, basil, and oregano. Simmer until the sauce has reduced by about ¼. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Cook the noodles until al dente
  • You may toss the spaghetti with the sauce in the pot, reserving a small amount of the sauce to add as a garnish on top, or you place the cooked spaghetti in a serving bowl and ladle the sauce on top.
  • Serve immediately
Serves: 6
Nutrition + Show
Calories 415
Total Fat 6.8g
Saturated Fat 1g
Carbohydrates 75.4g
Fiber 9.6g
Sugars 4.2g
Protein 8g
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