Carciofi ripieni (Stuffed artichokes)

artichokesSpring is in the air, it’s pollen season already and yesterday I came home to find my husband in shorts (well, he is English). Though the rain is bucketing down tonight, winter seems to be on the way out, and I feel like packing away winter jumpers soon. Oranges are cheap and wonderful, the artichokes are still good and some terribly early strawberries have been observed. We were having Sunday lunch with visitors at Tanto per Magna, an excellent Garbatella trattoria, when I saw carciofi ripieni being carried to a nearby table. Stuffed artichokes: hmmm, interesting! Here’s our attempt to recreate that.

Carciofi ripieni (Stuffed artichokes)
4-5 artichokes
4-5 Italian sausages
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan
One onion, chopped
pinch of dried thyme
salt, pepper

Buy your artichokes already cleaned from your friendly neighbourhood fruit and veg guy. Otherwise, get a small sharp knife and cut them down so the prickly outer leaves are removed. Cut off the stem as well (that is edible so save it for something else.) Boil the artichokes upside down for 10-12 minutes (you might need to weigh them down with something to stop them turning right side up.) Test with a knife to see when they start getting tender.

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Take them out, let them cool slightly, then scoop out the thistly bits in the centre with a sharp teaspoon. Try to keep them roughly intact, not always easy. Put them together in an ovenproof dish.

In the interim, crumble your sausages into a frying pan with a little salt and pepper and the onion, and cook them, draining off fat of needed. Tip into a bowl, and add breadcrumbs and cheese. You could add an egg to bind it, but ours held together well anyway.  Stuff each artichoke with as much of the cooked sausage stuffing as you can, then bake it at 200C for 10-15 minutes.

stuffed artichoke

Note: We should have cut these down further at the top before cooking them,  maybe 1-2 cm more, as they were still quite bristly after being cooked. Very nice flavour through! Next time I’d probably just enjoy the carciofi boiled without stuffing them, but it was fun to try something new. Might be nice to try these stuffed with mushrooms and breadcrumbs and the artichoke stems, with a little cheese on top. 

Spaghetti with carciofi and mint

Evening in Garbatella

It may be November, but here in Rome it is sunny and still 19 degrees. My cousin was visiting from Norway this week, only for two days, but she saw as much as possible. She was thrilled, also to escape the snow and Norwegian winter darkness. She enjoyed wine, gelato, Roman pizza, seeing the Pantheon, tossing a coin in the Trevi, and being flirted with by waiters, and now wants to come back next summer to study Italian. We also ambled around  our neighborhood (Garbatella) and had wine in the balmy first evening, which was good as it poured the next day.
20131027-192340.jpg With houseguests you never know, I like having some food options on hand for those too tired to go out. Not the case with my cousin! What time did not allow on this trip was spaghetti with carciofi and mint, so we had that for lunch after she left. Very easy, especially when our fruttivendolo has the carciofi (artichokes) already prepped and ready like this.

20131027-192348.jpgSpaghetti with carciofi and mint

4-5 artichokes, cleaned and sliced thinly
Handful of fresh parsley
Some sprigs of fresh mint
1 tsp olive oil
Splash of white wine or water
Pinch of salt
250 grammes spaghetti

While the pasta boils, toss the sliced artichokes in a frying pan with the oil and cook lightly until tender, just a few minutes. Add a splash of white wine or water if it looks dry. Chop parsley and mint and add, with a pinch of salt. Drain pasta when done, keeping a little pasta cooking water aside (1/4 cup?), and toss it with artichokes in pan. Moisten with pasta cooking water if needed, and serve. It’s light and tasty, the carciofi flavour really comes through.

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And then we went for a walk to enjoy our tourist-free, football loving neighourhood, basking in November sunshine. Life is good.

PS Many thanks to mrs.choux for the Liebster Award, and many thanks also to the Transplanted Cook for the Versatile Blogger award!

Garbatella Totti grafitti