I love artichokes, and they are always one of the first things that I cook upon our return to Umbria every year. We’ve had two good harvests from the artichoke plants growing in our garden, but unfortunately it looks like our artichoke season is almost over here in Umbria. Even the local markets have a minimal selection to choose from at this time, and they certainly are not at their best now. I picked a bowl of artichokes yesterday, and braised half in the oven with white wine, olive oil, and garlic, and cleaned the other half for this pasta dish we enjoyed at dinner. If you do not have access to fresh artichokes, you can use frozen ones. I do not care for the flavor of the canned ones as I find they have a metallic taste. Not that familiar with artichokes? You can read my blog post The Mysteries Of The Artichoke Unveiled or if you bought fresh artichokes but are uncomfortable cleaning them, check out my blog post How to Clean An Artichoke Step by Step .
We try and eat whole grain pasta as much as possible, so I used an artisan farro pasta I found in Spello, but you could use any long variety of pasta that you prefer. I use Taggiasca olives in my kitchen because I prefer their flavor, but any good tasting olive such as kalamata would work just fine. Guanciale is an Italian cured meat or salami product prepared from pork jowl or cheeks that we use a lot here in Umbria, but you could use pancetta, or even unsmoked bacon if you like. I considered whether or not to make this a tomato based sauce or not as I was gathering my ingredients, but in the end, I decided to go for it, and I am glad I did. The pasta sauce was savory, with an earthiness from the guanciale, and the olives gave the sauce just enough brightness to keep the sauce from tasting too one note.
Deborah Mele 2016
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 8 Medium Artichokes, Cleaned, And Cut Into Quarters (Or 2 Cups Thawed Frozen Artichokes)
- 1/3 Cup Diced Guanciale or Pancetta
- 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 1 (14 Ounce) Can Chopped Tomatoes (I Prefer Mutti Brand)
- 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 3/4 Cup Water
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1/2 Teaspoon Red Hot Chili Flakes (Optional)
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 3 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Basil
- 1/2 Cup Black Olives
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
- Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- 1 (500 Gram) Package Pasta Of Choice (See Notes Above)
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat until sizzling.
- Add the chopped artichokes, and cook, stirring often, until the artichokes begin to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes, then add the guanciale or pancetta, and continue to cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 6 to 7 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook an additional minute or two or until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes, paste, water, oregano, chili flakes, salt, pepper, and basil, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the artichokes are fork tender, and the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in the olives.
- You may need to add a little additional water if the sauce thickens too much.
- While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
- Drain the pasta and return to the pot.
- Add half the sauce to the pasta pot and toss until mixed.
- Serve the pasta in individual bowls with an added scoop of sauce on top, a sprinkling of parsley and some grated cheese.