Conchiglie pasta with pork polpette and artichokes
This is an intense and lusciously textured pasta. As the liquid reduces and concentrates, the time spent browning the polpette and caramelising the onion and celery really pays off - just be careful not to season too heavily early in the cooking.
500g good quality Italian pork sausages
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
3 sticks celery, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 brown onion, finely diced
1 fresh bay leaf
250ml dry white wine
1 litre good quality chicken stock (unsalted)
6-8 preserved artichokes, cut in half (see recipe below)
500g conchiglie or other short pasta
½ bunch mint, picked
½ cup fresh or frozen peas
100g pecorino, finely grated
1. Remove the skins from the sausages and roll the meat into balls about the size of a 20-cent piece to make polpette.
2. In a wide-based pan, add a good slug of oil and brown the polpette well all over, about five minutes. Season lightly and lift out of the pan.
3. Add the celery, garlic, onion and bay leaf to the pan (with a splash of oil if necessary) and cook until well caramelised, about 15 minutes.
4. Return the polpette to the pan, add the wine, stir through and reduce by two thirds. Add the stock and 500ml of water and simmer quickly for 30 minutes.
5. Add the artichokes and simmer for another 20 minutes - the liquid should be reduced by two thirds.
6. Cook the pasta until just al dente, drain quickly and add to the pot. Tear in the mint and add the peas, stir through and cook for about one minute. Check the seasoning, add half the cheese, mix through and serve with the remaining cheese on the side.
Drink: A richly styled verdicchio
See a video on how to prepare artichokes and chestnuts.
Preserved baby artichokes with juniper, bay and rosemary
These artichokes are really handy to have in the fridge for antipasto or to add to pasta or fish dishes. This method keeps the flesh firm and bright and they're just so much more delicious than what you can buy off the shelf. You can use more mature artichokes for this too - just cut them in quarters and remove the tough choke.
about 25 baby artichokes
500ml white vinegar
500ml dry white wine
2 fresh bay leaves
40g rock salt
250ml extra virgin olive oil
250ml neutral oil, such as grapeseed or rice bran
100ml white wine vinegar
1 tsp black peppercorns, cracked
6 juniper berries, crushed
2 fresh bay leaves, bruised lightly in your hands
2 sprigs rosemary, bruised lightly in your hands
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 dried (or fresh) long red chillies (optional)
1. To prepare the artichokes, remove most of the outer leaves until you see light yellow flesh. Cut off the top few centimetres of leaves. Trim the stalk and pare away the outer skin of the stalk to reveal the light green inner flesh. Remove any remaining tough outer leaves until you reach leaves that are an even yellow. Leave tiny artichokes whole and cut the larger ones in half. Immediately rub the entire surface of the artichokes with the cut lemon to stop discolouration.
2. In a large bowl, mix together all the dressing ingredients.
3. Bring the vinegar, wine, 500 ml of water, bay leaves and rock salt to the boil. Cook the artichokes in batches for three to four minutes each once the liquid comes back to the simmer - they should still be firm. Lift from the liquid, drain briefly and toss through the marinade.
4. Leave the artichokes to sit in the dressing at room temperature for at least an hour, stirring through every now and then. You can then store them in Tupperware in the fridge or in sterilised jars topped up with oil. They will keep for several months - also a great gift idea.
Seared sardines with raw artichoke
I really like raw artichoke with fish. Dressed in lemony oil with plenty of pepper, it adds a bright, nutty lift.
4-5 baby artichokes (or 2-3 larger)
2 lemons, 1 juiced
80ml extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely grated
freshly ground black pepper
16 butterflied sardine fillets (see below)
1 handful celery leaves - the pale-yellow inner leaves from the heart of a bunch
10 dried black olives, pitted and torn
2 tbsp pinenuts, toasted
½ tsp chilli powder
1. To prepare the artichokes, remove most of the outer leaves until you see light yellow flesh. Cut off the top few centimetres of leaves. Trim the stalk, leaving just a few centimetres and pare away the outer skin of the stalk to reveal the light green inner flesh. Remove any tough outer leaves until you reach leaves that are an even yellow. Immediately rub the entire surface of the artichoke with a cut lemon to stop discolouration. If your artichokes are more mature you might need to remove the tough choke from the centre.
2. For the dressing, mix together the oil, the lemon juice, the garlic, a generous pinch of salt and 15 grinds of pepper.
3. Finely shave the artichokes on a mandolin directly into the dressing. Toss, making sure to coat well.
4. Add a splash of oil to a frying pan over high heat. Season the sardine fillets with salt and pepper and sear skin side down for two minutes. Remove from the pan and place on a serving platter, skin side up - the fish will finish cooking while it rests.
5. Spread the artichokes over the sardines. Scatter over the celery leaves, olives and pinenuts. Sprinkle over the chilli powder and spoon over any remaining dressing. You could also plate this individually for a more composed entree.
Tip: To fillet your own sardines, remove the head and slice down the belly all the way to the tail. Remove the innards and rinse under water. Open the fillet out and place it flesh side down on your board; with your fingers press down firmly along the backbone. Flip the sardine over and gently peel the spine away from the flesh (head to tail), taking as many of the fine bones with it as you can. Trim any ragged edges and scrape away any stray bones.