Shoppers seem to be more familiar and discerning when selecting what used to be referred to as a ‘challenging vegetable’, and this could be contributing to the good quality of artichokes on sale.
As we are heading into spring (in Australia), artichokes are becoming more plentiful. Lately I have seen and purchased some very good artichokes at the Queen Victoria Market. I do like whole, stuffed, braised artichokes, however sliced artichokes can be sautéed and used to make a frittata, risotto or a pasta sauce.
The following is a standard pasta sauce made in most parts of Italy. Most regions use a few tomatoes (tinned at this time of year). I actually prefer the sauce without them and use extra wine for the extra moisture which may be required to soften the artichokes. Butter is added at the end to sweeten and bring together the flavours, but is generally not used in some regions of Italy (mainly in the south).
fettuccine all’uovo, 500 g (egg pasta)
tomatoes, 300g peeled and sliced (canned are OK at this time of year)
butter, 3 tablespoons
extra virgin olive oil, ½- ¾ cup
artichokes, 3-4, young and fresh
garlic, to taste
salt and coarsely-ground black pepper, to taste
white wine, 1 cup
fresh parsley, ½ cup
grated parmesan cheese, to taste
Prepare artichokes: strip off outer leaves until you have leaves that are lighter in colour and less fibrous.
Cut the artichokes into quarters and then into slices. Trim the stalk of their fibrous outer cover and slice. Keep the artichokes in acidulated water (lemon juice) to prevent from discolouring.
Heat the olive oil in a large shallow pan, add the well drained artichokes and sauté for approximately 3-4 minutes.
Add white wine and evaporate for a few minutes.
Add tomatoes, garlic, seasoning and parsley; taste the artichokes and decide if they need more cooking, cover and simmer till cooked (if the artichokes are tender it may only be 5-10 minutes). Add extra wine or stock if necessary.
Dress the pasta with the sauce. Add butter at this stage.
Place parmesan cheese on the table (or use pecorino if you wish it to be a southern Italian) .