Linguine with Artichokes
Artichokes are a sacred flower in Rome, this prehistoric looking flower is prepared in so many different ways in Rome, though the two most well know are the carciofi alla romana and alla giudea. Unfortunately the season for Roman artichokes is the spring, the artichokes that we find at this time of year aren’t the fatty round mammolas, but skinnier and purple coming from Tuscany, il violetto toscano.
When I was growing up artichokes were a special occasion food, my sister and I would request them as a starter for our birthday dinners and we would always eat them the same way, steamed with a butter-lemon dipping sauce. This is still one of my favorite ways to eat them.
Artichokes were such a special food to me as a kid, that when I saw them trimmed naked to their hearts when I moved to Italy I was almost disappointed. It seemed like a waste, though in reality the same amount of the artichoke is eaten, only you throw the leaves away before eating them, not while you eat them!
I have been training myself to trim these flowers to their naked hearts. I have been met with many disasters and I still lack confidence in my trimming skills, but I think that I may have started to get the hang of it.
Linguine ai Carciofi e Pancetta
- 3 medium sized artichokes, trimmed and cleaned
- ¼ lb of pancetta, cut into small cubes
- 1 cup of dry white wine
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 whole cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
- ½ lb of linguini
- 1 whole lemon
- salt to taste
Prepare a bowl with cold water and lemon juice.
Clean the artichokes by eliminating their outer leaves; you can do this by bending them and snapping them off. Do this until you get to the leaves that are lighter in color. Cut off the tip of the central cone, to eliminate the tougher green end of the leaves. Cut the heart in half and scoop out the inside chokes with a knife or a small spoon. Cut the heart of the artichoke into thin slices and immerse in the lemon water.
If your artichokes have stems, cut the stem off and peel it of its outer skin. Chop into small cubes to be used in the sauce as well, it would be shame to throw them away.
Chop pancetta into cubes.
Heat oil in a wide saucepan over medium-high heat and add the whole cloves of garlic. When garlic starts to sizzle add the pancetta and the slices of artichokes. Sauté artichokes over high heat for a few minutes and add cup of white wine. Lower heat to a medium flame and cover pan. Stirring occasionally. Sauté artichokes for at least 30 minutes, or until they are soft, if the artichokes start to dry out, add water to the pan.
In the meantime, fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water starts to boil for the pasta add a small handful of salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
When the pasta is perfectly al dente, turn up the heat on the sauce and drain the pasta. Without shaking all of the water out of the colander pour the pasta into the pan and toss it with the sauce. This allows for the pasta to cook a little longer in the sauce and to absorb the flavor.