Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spaghetti with Artichokes and Pancetta

This is the cover recipe from last month's Food & Wine. It's a Mario Batali recipe, so I knew it would be excellent...but what took me so long to make it was looking for baby artichokes. I had seen them at Whole Foods before, and sure enough the day I went to the store with the intention to make this for dinner they didn't have them. But luckily they came back so I finally made it last night. Aren't they so cute? Awwww.

1 lemon, halved
8 baby artichokes (about 1 pound)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
One 2-ounce piece of lardo or pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

Fill a large bowl with water. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon halves, then add the lemon halves to the water. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, peel off the dark green outer leaves. Cut off the top fourth of the artichoke; peel and trim the stem.

Slice the artichoke lengthwise 1/8 inch thick and drop into the lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.

In a saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic and lardo and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain the artichokes; discard the lemon. Add the artichokes to the saucepan, cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until almost tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the white wine, cover and simmer over moderately low heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta and the reserved cooking water to the artichokes and toss over moderate heat for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, stir in the 1/4 cup of cheese and season with salt and pepper. Serve the pasta, passing more grated cheese at the table.

I cut this recipe in half. The baby artichokes were great, but thing that really tied the dish together was the added pasta water at the end. It instantly thickened everything up, turning it into an almost carbonara-like sauce. As long as I can find baby artichokes, I'll keep making this dish.

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