Italian food and cooking I have come too learn is about simplicity, highlighting one or two ingredients and letting them shine. Artichokes or in Italy known as Carciofi have been a historical part of the cuisine since the 14th century, the spineless, cultivated artichoke was finally introduced from the region around Napoli, then finally in Tuscany where it became very popular during the Renaissance years.
Having a robust and earthy flavor the artichoke can be quite daunting for the unknown cook to understand or grasp its bold shape, color and texture, but trust me following a few easy steps of cleaning and cutting you will be putting artichokes in everything just like the italians. From Risotto to pasta, side dishes with meat, stuffed and fried, even sliced thinly over a salad is a great way to highlight the freshness at its seasons peak.
6 globe artichokes
— 3 leeks
— 50g pine nuts
— Extra virgin olive oil
— Salt and pepper
— 1 lemon
— 500g 00 flour
— 250g warm water
— Pinch of salt
- For this dish, you can use dried Pasta but if you like to make your own fresh it is very simple. Take your flour and place on a large working surface, form a well and slowly pour the middle your warm water and slowly mix together, add a pinch of salt and kneed your pasta dough until smooth and elastic. Cover your pasta and allow to rest, this stops the pasta from drying out but then allows the gluten to rest and the pasta to become elastic.
- To form your Trofie shape, just take a small pinch of pasta from your ball,roll in-between your hands to from a small worm shape and that is Trofie. You can freeze your Pasta if you wish to use at a later date or dust with flour and keep covered in a cool dry until needed.
- To clean your Artichokes, you need to first remove the woody, fibrous outer leaves to then reveal the soft inner part known as the artichoke heart.Slice off the pointed tips, then in half and remove the hairy inside. In a large bowl, fill with water and your lemon cut in half and place your cleaned artichokes inside until needed. This will stop any oxidization occurring.
- Clean and peel your leeks, then slice into medium sided chunks and then in a dry non stick pan, over low heat, slowly toast your pine nuts until a slight golden brown color appears, then remove and set aside. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, drain and dry your artichokes, then slice lengthways. In a large pan, add your olive oil and on medium heat saute your leeks, then after a minute or two then add your artichokes.
- Once your Artichokes and Leeks are almost cooked, drop your Trofie into the boiling water and cook until al dente, if you are using fresh pasta this will only take a few minutes. Remove your pasta and place directly into your pan and toss through and combine with your Artichokes and leeks. Adding a little cooking water to loosen things up, a touch more Olive oil and then your Pine nuts. Season to taste and once everything is well combined serve.