Friday, 20 January 2012

Farfalle with Artichoke Sauce



And now for something completely different… We’re going to prepare a simple and healthy meal. The recipe might prove a tad expensive right now because it’s winter and the season for our main ingredient would be June-September. I’m talking about artichokes.

The globe artichoke is a truly healthy vegetable. It contains a high rate of antioxidants and other active chemicals that help your bile flow, digestion, liver and gall bladder function and reduce your cholesterol levels. It’s rich with fibres and almost calorie- and fatless. Because of its current prize, I only bought 5 of them for the two of us (actually at 1,90 euros apiece!). That quantity turned out perfect for two meals. You have to know that normally, only the artichoke heart is eaten (approx. 15% of the whole thingy). But here’s how you use the rest as well (it would be a pity to waste so much money on so little to eat, plus I found it really tasty; and if I can do something for my cholesterol, after all that buttery pistachio cake…)

What you need:
  • 5 artichokes (for 2 persons) 
  • Two little bowls of sauce Vinaigrette 
  • Farfalle (butterfly-like pasta, hence the name – in Italian, “farfalle” means butterflies; you can use any other pasta you like, of course) 
  • 125 ml of cream 
  • Some butter 
  • Some olive oil 
  • Salt (I used celery salt), pepper 
  • Ground nutmeg 
  • A pinch of Cayenne pepper 
  • Grated Parmesan 
How to proceed:
First meal (or starter): 
  • Cut off the stems of your artichokes (we won’t eat them). 
  • Then, you have to boil or steam the vegetables. I chose to steam them (approx. 25 minutes) in order to keep them as tasty and as healthy as possible. 
  • Prepare a little bowl of simple vinaigrette for each person. 
  • When cooked, serve artichokes and vinaigrette. 
  • Take off the leaves, one at a time. Tip the fleshy base in your vinaigrette and eat. The fibrous upper part can be discarded. The thin leaves in the centre can be entirely eaten. 
  • At the end, you’ll have the artichoke heart, with its upper part covered by the choke (a mass of immature florets that look like hair). This part, the choke, is inedible; you have to remove it carefully. 
  • Put the artichoke hearts aside. I prepared my pasta the next day, so I put them in the fridge. 
Second meal (or main course): 
  • Cut the artichoke hearts in little pieces. 
  • Heat butter and olive oil in a pan. 
  • Fry the vegetables for 3-5 minutes. 
  • Add the cream, salt, pepper, ground nutmeg and a pinch of Cayenne pepper (be careful, this spice is very hot; I only use it to make the dish tastier but not to make it spicy hot, alright? If you don’t notice it, you’ve added the right amount). 
  • Lower the heat, cook for about 25 minutes (the sauce has to be unctuous and thick). 
  • In the meantime, boil your farfalle
  • Serve with grated Parmesan and a bowl of salad (salad is always great with any pasta dish). 
During the first meal, you’ll enjoy that subtle, slightly smoky taste of the artichokes mixed with the acidity of the vinaigrette. The second meal has a stronger taste; that’s why I cooked the sauce for quite a moment, until there was almost no liquid cream left. Thus, the flavours of the spices and the artichokes melted together to an exceptional result. 
Bon appétit! 

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