Sitting at the end of the driveway is our rather large artichoke plant. It is very unusual to see one here. We have people stopping all the time to admire it. The artichokes are ripe and ready to cook. Artichokes are probably my favorite vegetable. I love them grilled and stuffed, but I also adore them in pasta. The stems are edible and delicious. This recipe is adapted from one my Aunt Jo gave me a long time ago. I did not have the privilege to know most of my grandparents; I only knew my paternal grandmother. My maternal grandparents died before I was born, but through recollections of aunts and uncles, and sharing their recipes, my grandparents have come alive for me. Much of my cooking has its origins in the traditions of my Sicilian and Pugliese family roots. The house smells great while this dish is cooking. The combination of artichokes, garlic, lemon, wine, and cheese is hard to beat. As my Aunt Jo said, “Cook this for your spouse and he or she will love you forever.” I have to agree.
PASTA AND ARTICHOKES
2 medium-size artichokes
1 lemon, cut into quarters
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt, pepper to taste
1/2 c. white wine
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese or more to taste
4 c. chicken stock
2 Tbsp. chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
2 fresh bay leaves
3/4 lb. spaghettini
Trim prickly tops off artichoke leaves with a pair of scissors. Cut off the first 1/2-inch from top of entire artichoke and cut off stem. Peel stem and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Cut artichokes in half and remove the fury portion of the choke, then take each half and slice lengthwise into 5 portions. Repeat with 2nd artichoke and place in a large mixing bowl with the lemon quarters which have been squeezed to release juice into water. Fill the bowl with water. Let artichokes sit in acidulated water for a few minutes. Heat extra-virgin oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. When oil is hot add garlic and sauté until soft, but not brown. Add artichoke sections and stem pieces and stir to coat with oil and garlic. Add cheese, let melt. Add wine and cook until wine has reduced by 1/3rd. This should take about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups chicken stock. Add bay leaves and 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley. Cover and let cook about 10 minutes until chicken stock is reduced. Add 1 more cup of broth and cook until chokes are almost tender, about half an hour. Add 1 Tbsp. parsley, more cheese and the last of the chicken stock and check salt and pepper. Cook 15 more minutes or until the artichokes are fork tender. The entire cooking process should be 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cook pasta until al dente then add to artichoke sauce. Add more broth if pasta seems dry. Adjust seasoning and garnish with remaining parsley and extra cheese if desired. Drizzle with a little olive oil, remove bay leaves and serve. Serves 6.
Pasta and Artichokes