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?