Rigatoni with artichokes and pancetta

Artichokes work well in a salty pasta dish like this.
Artichokes work well in a salty pasta dish like this.  Photo: William Meppem

You may think artichokes are too tricky to deal with. Rest assured, once you start cleaning these guys up, you’ll find so many ways to include them in dishes. They are delicious shaved raw with fennel in a salad, deep-fried until crisp, or boiled and served with vinaigrette or hollandaise sauce. For a vegetarian variation, just remove the pancetta (and the parmesan for vegans), then add a breadcrumb mix, which I always include in vegan pastas for texture and flavour.

Ingredients

4 globe artichokes

2 lemons, with zest of one removed and reserved

150ml extra virgin olive oil

100g pancetta, roughly chopped

½ brown onion, finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

400g dried rigatoni

freshly grated parmesan

2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Method

1. To cook the artichokes, cut off the stem (and reserve) and cut off the top half of the globe and pull off the leaves one by one until you see the lighter-coloured tender leaves of the heart. Using a teaspoon, scrape out the centre of the artichoke. Next, using a paring knife, peel the furry skin off the bottom of the leaves and the stems and rub all over with the quarter of one lemon (this helps to prevent browning). Place in a bowl of water mixed with the juice of that lemon, then peel the next artichoke. When all are prepared, simmer in salted boiling water until tender, about 20 minutes. When cooled, quarter the globes and roughly chop the stems.

2. Heat a large frying pan and add the olive oil and pancetta and season with sea salt. Fry for 2 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and chilli flakes. Reduce the heat and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the artichoke and lemon zest and cook for a further 3 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of heavily salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta for about 8 minutes, or until al dente. When the pasta is cooked, drain, add to the sauce, and toss through.

4. Add the juice of the second lemon, parmesan, parsley, season with freshly ground black pepper and fold through. Serve immediately.