Artichoke & Tomato Pappardelle

  • Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Serves: 4
  • Level: medium

‘… If you like pasta, and you like artichokes… make this meal!’

Pete
'Quite literally Dad's signature dish...'

What you need

16 violetta artichokes or two small jars of preserved artichokes or two tins of artichoke hearts

250g egg pappardelle or tagliatelle

2 small onions

1 stick of celery

5 peppercorns

Dried chilli flakes to taste

2 garlic cloves

600g ripe tomatoes

2 tbs tomato puree

400ml light chicken stock

Small handful parsley

125ml virgin olive oil

2 bay leaves

2 tbs white wine vinegar



Dad's Recipe Tales

In An Invitation to Italian Cooking, Antonio Carluccio recalls eating simple artichoke and pasta dishes in many restaurants throughout Italy. He says artichokes, tomato and pasta complement each other well. Indeed they do. This recipe based on his and is a regular in my repertoire – it’s one of my favourite things to eat.

Not long ago artichokes were scarce in the UK – those available were of the very large globe type. Their popularity seems to have been inversely proportional to their size. Over the years smaller and smaller types have become more widely available and are now commonplace. Here I use the smallest ‘violetta’ artichokes. I was alerted to their availability via friends who were shopping in Kingston market. ‘Artichokes 4 for a pound!’ came the text. By the time I arrived, (the next day), a crate of  sad floppy ‘chokes were all that was left. But the upside was that the trader was happy to see the back of them and I took them away for a quid.

For a quicker version, use any of the preserved artichokes available in jars or cans. Avoid the chargrilled type as they give an unwelcome harshness to this dish. To cook the artichokes, I use Janet Ross’s collected recipes from Leaves from our Tuscan Kitchen originally published in 1899. She says this is one of the finest ways to eat artichokes. And who are we to argue?

How Dad Cooked It

  1. Use a small pointed sharp stainless steel knife to prepare the artichokes.
  2. Pull off the tough outer leaves of the artichokes and carefully trim the base and stem. Cut off the top half of leaves, and cut the artichokes into halves. If the artichokes are old or overgrown there will be a developed choke which needs to be removed. Carefully cut under the choke pulling out some of the spiny inner purple leaves. Put the artichokes in acidulated water, (with some added vinegar or lemon juice), whilst you prepare the remainder.
  3. Heat a large heavy pan with a lid. Add the artichokes and pour in 125ml good olive oil. Sweat the artichokes for a couple of minutes then add boiling water to a level just under the artichokes. Scatter over 5 peppercorns and the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Check the artichokes at this stage and continue to cook with the lid off until the water has evaporated and the artichokes are tender.
  4. If using preserved artichokes, drain the artichokes over a bowl. Discard the oil*.
  5. Skin, deseed and chop the tomatoes.
  6. Fry the onion, celery and chilli in good olive oil on a medium high heat stirring continuously for 5 minutes, add the garlic and continue stirring and frying for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes and the puree to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock and the parsley and cook for 10 minutes. Finally add the artichokes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the sauce rest with the lid over the pan.
  8. In the meantime bring a large pan of water to the boil and add two big pinches of salt. Put the pasta in and cook until just al dente. Reserve a large mug of the pasta water and drain the pasta.
  9. Taste the sauce for seasoning. Put the pasta into the sauce and toss together using strong shakes of the pan, assisted with a spatula. If the sauce is a little dry, loosen it with some of the sauce with some of the pasta water. Let the pasta and the sauce rest for a minute or two.
  10. Serve with grated Parmesan – or pecorino – and fresh crusty bread.

*Do not be deceived into thinking that you can procure good olive oil by draining artichoke oil from jars. Best to treat it as the producers have, i.e. the lowest quality oil that the can be used without spoiling the contents and still make a profit. It will be a vegetable oil of some sort – or possibly a base refined olive oil – but it will not be the high quality artichoke-flavoured olive oil one imagines. Discard or keep for frying sausages and the like.

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