A few days after we published our recipe for Tourte de Blette a friend told us about the great taste of artichoke pie and how popular this dish is in Italy, especially in Liguria. Since we love artichokes, we dived into our cooking library, looking for recipes. Interestingly most recipes refer to canned or marinated artichokes. But wouldn’t it be much better to use fresh, young artichokes? Other ingredients are cheese (Prescinsêua, or a combination of Parmesan or Pecorino and Ricotta, perhaps some Crème fraîche or even Feta), herbs (parsley, thyme or oregano) and eggs. We like the combination of artichoke and thyme (as we did in our salad), but we could imagine oregano to be a good choice as well. We remained close to Tourte de Blette and prepared a rustic, open pie, but feel free to create one with pastry on top.
It’s not straightforward to pair artichokes with wine. According to various researchers this is due to cynarin, a chemical especially found in the leaves of the artichoke. When the wine and the cynarin meet in your mouth, the natural sweetness of the wine is amplified, making it taste too sweet. So you have to pair freshly cooked or steamed artichokes with a bone-dry, crisp, unoaked white wine with clear, present acidity. For instance Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner or Albariño. We enjoyed our Artichoke Pie with a glass of Château Pajzos Tokaj “T” Furmint, a dry, bright, fresh wine with zesty, nutty and mineral flavours made from the Hungarian Furmint grape. A unique wine and perfect in combination with the artichokes. Cynarin and wine are not a match made in heaven but the good news is that cynarin seems to protect your liver and even helps it regenerate.
What You Need
For the Dough
100 gram of Flour
50 gram of Water
10 gram of Olive Oil
1 gram of Salt
For the Mixture
4-6 young Artichokes
30 grams of Rice
20 gram Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
What You Do
Cook the rice and leave to rest. Combine flour, salt, water and olive oil. Make the dough, kneed for a minute or so and store in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Clean the artichokes, steam for 30-45 minutes depending on the size and let cool. Chop the shallot. Warm a heavy skillet, add olive oil and gently fry the shallot. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Using a spoon remove the ‘meat’ from the leaves (bracts) of the artichokes. Chop the hearts in four. You may need to remove the centre choke (the hairs). Strip a generous amount of thyme. Whisk two eggs and combine with the artichokes, the shallot, the rice, the thyme and the freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Add some black pepper. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Coat a 15 cm or 6 inch round baking form with oil (or use a sheet of baking paper). Place the dough in the baking form and add the filling. Transfer to the oven for 40-50 minutes on 180˚-200˚ Celsius or 355˚-390˚ Fahrenheit. Immediately after having removed the pie from the oven, brush the outside with olive oil. This will intensify the colour of the pastry. Let cool and enjoy luke warm.
A beautiful flower and an intriguing ingredient. A large artichoke with some mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar makes for a wonderful, relaxing starter. The smaller ones are great when turned into a salad or when served with tagliatelle as a starter. Steaming is the ideal way to prepare artichokes. The flavour remains intact and the leaves will become soft yet firm. Don’t be tempted to buy preserved artichokes hearts. In most cases these are only about marinade, vinegar, sugar and unidentified spices. Whereas artichokes should be about taste and especially texture. It’s a thistle you’re eating and not something white and fluffy from a jar. Key to this salad is the combination of artichokes and thyme. Lots of thyme! Enjoy the light, earthy and slightly bitter flavour of the artichokes in combination with the aromatic thyme.
You can serve this salad to accompany an aperitif, or with some bread as a starter.
What You Need
6 small Artichokes
(White Wine) Vinegar
What You Do
Remove the stem of the artichokes and steam the artichokes for 30 – 45 minutes, depending on the size. Remove and let cool. Peel of the first layers of the outer leaves. Make the dressing by combining the oil and vinegar and then adding the mustard. Cut the artichokes in 6 or 8 parts. Add the dressing to the artichokes, mix well, making sure all artichokes are coated. Sprinkle lots of thyme and carefully mix again. Put in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Mix again, taste, add black pepper and perhaps some more thyme and serve!
We’re true fans of artichokes. Although available throughout the year, we especially love them in Summer. They come with various structures and flavours, an interesting shape and a beautiful flower. Have you noticed that the heart and the leaves have a similar yet different taste? Artichokes also come with a challenge: how to serve them in an elegant way? One way of serving the small ones is as a salad; another way is using them as an ingredient in a pasta dish. Let’s talk briefly about Pancetta: this is cured and dried pork meat, so not smoked. You could replace it with traditional bacon, but be careful not to use something heavy oak smoked.
We enjoyed our pasta with a glass of Italian Corvina from the Verona region. This is a fruity wine, think red fruit (strawberries, cherries), only a hint of acidity, not too much tannins. We bought a bottle from Torre del Falasco. Great buy!
What You Need
4 Small Artichokes
75 gram of Pancetta
1 Garlic Glove
100 gram of Fresh Tagliatelle
What You Do
Steam or cook the small artichokes. Let them cool, peel them and cut of the upper half. Cut the remainder in 6 or 8 chunks. Cut the pancetta in slices. Take a large skillet and warm. Add some olive oil and glaze the pancetta. It’s not the idea to fry the meat, the fat should not melt, only glaze. Now add the thinly chopped garlic and warm until the garlic is slightly soft. This may take a few minutes so an occasional stir is required. Now add the artichokes and the thyme. Stir very gently because the idea is that the artichokes remain intact. Cook the tagliatelle (probably 4 minutes) and drain but keep some of the cooking liquid. Sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese over the artichokes, stir, very gently, add one or two spoons of the cooking liquid, add more Parmesan cheese and more liquid. Now add some olive oil and the tagliattele. Check if this looks fine to you. If not add more liquid. Add a generous amount of black pepper. Serve on a warm plate with some extra Parmesan cheese.
Artichokes are not very popular, with the exception of marinated artichokes hearts in a jar. Pity! These hearts are simply not as tasty as freshly made ones. They are all about marinade, vinegar, sugar and some unidentified spices. Whereas our artichokes are about taste and texture. Remember it’s a thistle you’re eating and not something white and fluffy from a jar. Bigger artichokes are a wonderful, relaxing starter and the smaller ones are great when turned into a salad. One thing is important: take your time to cook the artichokes. The small ones should be cooked 30 minutes or so, which means they lose most if not all of their flavour. So it should read: take your time to steam the artichokes. Then the artichokes are ready to eat and keep their original taste. Key to the salad is the combination of artichokes and thyme. Lots of thyme!
You can serve this salad to accompany an aperitif, or with some bread as a starter. Make sure you have plenty of dressing.
Remove the stem of the artichokes and steam the artichokes for 45 minutes, depending on the size. Remove and let cool. Peel of the first layers of the outer leaves. Make the dressing by turning the mustard and the garlic into a smooth paste. Then gently add the other ingredients and whisk well to make it really smooth, thick dressing. Cut the artichokes in 6 or 8 parts. Add to the dressing, mix well, coating all artichokes. Sprinkle lots of thyme and mix again. Put in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Mix again, taste, add some more thyme and serve!