Italian Artichoke with Pasta
On our recent trip to the Amalfi coast (read more about our trip here), this was one of the recipes we tried. Cooking in Italy was an experience of its own. We had a local chef come and cook authentic Italian food for us.
I haven't really cooked with artichokes, except for maybe once or twice. The first time I saw this weird looking fruit, was on a visit to my aunt's house. I saw her eating it and was quite amazed. She showed me how she picked off the individual leaves, dipped it in a caesar type of dressing, and then with her teeth scraped the soft fleshy underside of the leaves. She gave me some to try, and I had to admit, I liked the flavor. But after that I just promptly forgot about it.
The next time I came across this unique vegetable was on another trip to Italy, when we visited Rome. We ate at one of these quaint restaurants, and one of the appetizers on the menu was fried Jerusalem artichoke. I was very curious about it, so I just had to try it. I did, and I loved it! It was a whole different dish than the cooked version, and I really loved it.
When I came back home, I resolved to try it. I bought several and proceeded to throw it into a pot with hot oil, deep frying it. I waited and waited, kept on checking on it, but nothing happened. It didn't become crispy, it just looked like an oily soggy mess. I left it there a while, but it never became the texture I wanted it and remembered it to be. Eventually it just burned, and I threw it out. What a Flop!
Now when we went to the store with our chef to select ingredients, and he suggested artichokes, I was eager to give it a try, and learn how to prepare it properly. He bought about 4 pieces for the 2 of us. He proceeded to make the artichoke pasta, according to the following directions. He kept a few pieces whole to eat on its own, and the rest he mashed and created this pasta dish with. It came out delicious. Now I have a new vegetable to try at home! So here I am sharing it with you and urging you to give it a try and experiment with this vegetable at home.
Here are the ingredients:
1/4 cup of water
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup dry wine- red or white
Juice of one lemon
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
Peel off the outer leaves of the artichoke. Cut off the bottom of the artichoke stem, and about half of the top of the artichoke. (The upper part of the artichoke is very tough and isn’t edible.) Cut the artichokes into quarters lengthwise. You will see a fuzzy little center, which you need to scoop out, since it’s really prickly. Put the artichokes into a pan with 1/4 cup of water and the juice of one lemon. After 10 minutes of poaching it in the pan uncovered, drizzle some olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook for another 5 minutes. Pour wine over it and bring to a boil. Cover, and lower the flame to low. Cook on low heat for approximately 20 minutes. Keep checking and turning and adding water if necessary. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salt water until al dente, and drain. After the artichokes are soft enough, take them out of the pan and cut or smash them into bite size pieces. The leaves will just separate which is fine. Add them back in the pan, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped parsley and heavy cream and heat it through. Add the pasta and heat it in the sauce so it’s nicely blended. Serve with some chopped parsley on top!
Read my other blogs for more recipes on our trip to Positano, and about details of our stay in the Amalfi Coast.