The recipe and the name of this dish is taken from the menu of one of Sicily’s outstanding restaurants called Charleston found in Mondello.
Mondello is a very beautiful beach community on the outskirts of Palermo – an easy bus trip.
The restaurant is probably called by this name, because of its grandeur and its spacious design is reminiscent of the popular, dance halls of the twenties. It is a lively, glamorous restaurant on the water, with top food and had been reputed to be frequented by pezzi grossi (slang for people who mean business).
Close to Mondello is the Parco della Favorita, a spectacular park and a villa.
Each Spring I enjoy eating fresh broad beans and fresh peas. Artichokes in Australia are at the end of their season and may be quite fibrous at this time of year, however in this recipe the most tender parts are used – discard most of the outside leaves leaving only the softer centre and the ‘fondi’ of the artichokes (the tender, fleshy part at the base). Combining these three vegetables is very common in many Italian Spring recipes and in this recipe the results are a fresh pasta dish.
I first wrote this recipe in my blog in 2008 and I am republishing it because I have been fiddling around with this recipe since then. I am also revisiting some of the old recipes on my blog and updating some of the photos- the photos of Mondello are from 2007 and I am remembering some very enjoyable experiences.
I had eaten at the Charleston a couple of times in earlier years and had enjoyed the food and menu immensely. The intention was and still is (2014) to represent the best of Sicilian traditional dishes, wines and quality produce. Last time I ate at this restaurant was in 2009 and my experiences were not as favourable; the restaurant had changed hands so this may also have contributed to my negative impressions at the time or maybe I was having a bad hair day!.
The pasta dish is similar to a warm salad. Using cylindrical shaped, hollow, tubular pasta will help to trap the sauce. The vegetables are cooked very quickly and I make the sauce while the pasta is cooking to better preserve the colours of the vegetables (the different shades of the colour green).
WHAT I LIKE TO DO
In my recipe I add herbs at the end of cooking – mint or fennel fronds (cut finely) or fresh basil.
As an alternative I also like to add fresh ricotta on top of the pasta when I present it. If I do this I omit the pecorino cheese.
The following recipe is for 6 people
pasta, 400g tubular pasta
artichokes, the fondi (bases)-depending on the size of the artichokes I usually buy 5 large artichokes and use the stalk as well
lemon, 1 for acidulated water
broadbeans, young, 1kg in their pods
peas, young, 1kg n their pods
onion, 1 large white, fresh (fresh onion are sweeter in taste ) sliced
pecorino, 100g freshly grated
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil, 3/4 cup
Shell the peas and broad beans. (Many remove the outer light green peel of the broad beans – I only buy young broad beans and only remove the skin of the larger beans)
Prepare the artichokes by first removing all of the leaves and only keeping the tender centre and its fleshy base. Remove the choke if there is one. The peeled stalks and the artichokes should be sliced finely and keep them in acidulated water until ready to use to prevent them from browning.
Boil the water, add salt and cook the pasta and make the sauce while the pasta is cooking.
Heat the oil and add the onion. Stir gently until golden and softened.
Add the vegetables and toss till they begin to change colour and have softened (about 7-10 mins). Add salt during cooking.
Add fresh, finely chopped herbs before the end of cooking..
Drain the pasta, add the sauce and toss gently.
Present it with grated pecorino and black pepper.