pasta with baby artichokes (orecchiette con carciofini)

May 9, 2013 § 37 Comments

The majority of my dinner inspiration occurs while taking a stroll through the produce area of the market.  On this visit I came to a halt in front of the baby artichoke arrangement.  Instantly I knew I was going to try them in a sauce for pasta.  IMG_1962

Never having prepared baby artichokes before I knew with a little trimming you may eat the whole thistle.  After a little research I found it is very necessary to soak your trimmed artichokes in lemon water, otherwise they turn an unsightly brown hue.  I read a couple of appetizing sautéed baby artichoke recipes and came up with an idea. Shallots instead of onions.  Herbs from the garden.  And one of my favorite pasta sauce ingredients, pancetta.

This is very simple and not too rich.  The three herbs really give it a fresh spring-like flavor.  For this dish I chose orecchiette because it is my son’s favorite.  He calls them hard hats.

Ingredients

  • 12 baby artichokes, cut the tops and stems off and pull off any thicker outer leaves
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 4 shallots finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, diced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • handful parsley, finely chopped
  • handful mint, finely chopped
  • handful basil, finely sliced
  • freshly shaved grana padano parmesan

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Method

Squeeze your lemon into a large bowl of water and drop the lemons in too.  As you are slicing your artichokes add them to the bowl so they do not turn brown.

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.

In a large skill, over medium heat add your olive oil and pancetta and cook until brown.  Add shallots and garlic and cook another 4 or 5 minutes.  Drain the artichokes and add them to the skillet.  Raise the heat to medium high and cook until the edges have turned a nice golden brown.  Add wine and reduce.  Cover pan, lower the heat to simmer and cook another 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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While pasta is cooking chop the parsley and mint together.  Slice the basil into little strips.

After your pasta has cooked and before you drain, reserve 1/2 cup of your pasta liquid.

Stir the reserved pasta water into your artichoke sauce and bring to a soft boil.  Add drained pasta and parsley to the sauce and toss to combine and coat well.  Turn off heat.  Serve right away topped with cheese and basil.

Serves 4

buon appetite.

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