This wonderful recipe is inspired by the late fall season, and sticks perfectly to this land’s tradition of making the most of every available ingredients… especially the ones that are often overlooked ad composted prematurely.
While dining in central Italy this time of the year, it is extremely common to find artichokes represented on restaurant menus mainly in form of either a raw carpaccio that is usually served as an appetizer, or most likely stewed “Roman style” and served as a side dish to a protein item.
However, if you were to go shop our local markets for these delicious vegetables, you would be amazed about how often they are bunched together just like a bouquet of flowers, with their stems cut very long. Since it would be a bit redundant to serve a meal with two different artichoke dishes, my suggestion would be to first cook the flowers for one meal, while saving the stems (rinsed and chopped) in the freezer for another day.
This following recipe not only lands itself as an absolutely delicious pasta sauce, but if you were to play a bit with its consistency, by adding or subtracting the amount of water used to thicken, you might find rare enlightment by way of a vellutata soup or a spread to use on bruschetta.
- 1 lb Orecchiette (or your favorite short cut dry pasta)
- 1 lb Artichoke stems, chopped roughly
- 1 medium size red Onion, sliced thin
- 5 oz Guanciale (or pancetta), diced small
- 2 tbs Grated Parmigiano, plus more for finishing
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Hot Pepper Flakes (optional)
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil, cook artichoke stems for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a non stick pan, sauté the guanciale in olive oil over a medium-high flame, until slightly brown and crispy.
- Add the sliced onion, stir well into the oil and rendered fat, cook until softened and slightly browned.
- When the artichoke stems are ready (soft enough to be crushed between two fingers), drain them using a spider so to preserve the cooking water. Place them in a blender, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and pulse for a few short moments. Add about a half cup of the preserved hot water, then blend until very smooth.
- Remove the vegetables from the blender, add the grated Parmigiano and mix in the sauteed guanciale and onion. Stir well until a desired consistency is reached adding a touch more of hot water if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cook the orecchiette al dente (In the preserved water) and start tasting for texture about a minute before what is indicated on the pasta box as its suggested cooking time.
- Strain the pasta, place in a serving bowl and mix in evenly with the artichoke sauce.
- Serve seasoned with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of grated Parmigiano and a light dash of hot pepper if desired.