Artichokes are one of those vegetables that even if I did get my hands on a fresh one, I’d get bored halfway through cleaning it. Since this is India, I would have probably paid through my nose just to sit down with a knife trimming down the artichoke till I get to the fuzzy choke that’s inedible, just so I can pluck it out. And honestly, do I have the luxury of time to perform this complicated surgical procedure on a vegetable? No.
That said, I’ve actually come to enjoy the taste of artichokes over time in flatbreads at Eddies Bistro and snuck into the Artichoke and Mushroom Ravioli at Pali Village Cafe. When describing the taste of artichokes, some describe it as broccoli, but I don’t see it. It’s a bit briny, squishy, a bit like good quality asparagus, but sits very well in salads, pasta, over flatbreads, in bakes, or simply blitzed through as I shall do in my Spinach and Artichoke dip recipe.
If you buy a can of artichokes and just happen to have great tomatoes at home like I did a few days ago, this pasta is a godsend. The San Marzano tomatoes, bursting with freshness and fruity pulp are cooked down, then the browned artichokes are stirred through, heated and served with spaghetti. Sounds simple, but the artichokes somehow make the tomatoes and anything they are paired with taste somewhat sweeter and better than they are. Pepper Farms, a venture by Brijwasi that grows heirloom varieties of vegetables sent these over for me to work with, and these tomatoes were incredible. You can order them for yourself by getting in touch with them via their Instagram page.
Spaghetti In A Spicy Artichoke and Anchovy Sauce
Browning the artichokes beforehand and then dunking it into the sauce later will ensure that the artichokes don't fall apart and aren't too limp in the final dish. Feel free to up the chilli powder in this recipe if you like.
Artichoke hearts 1/2 tin, drained
Anchovy fillets 4, drained from their oil
Onion 1 small, finely chopped
Garlic 3 cloves, chopped
Coriander leaves a small handful, chopped finely
San Marzano tomatoes 2 (from Pepper Farms), blanched for a minute, transferred to ice cold water, peeled and chop
Tomato purée 2 tbsp
Chilli powder 1/4 tsp
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Capers 1 tbsp (optional), drained. I generally use capers from Ishkaa Farms
Parmesan 25g for serving
In a frying pan, add a bit of extra virgin olive oil and when hot, add in the drained artichokes and brown them over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Once they have browned all over, take the pan off the heat and set aside the artichokes.
In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, add a good glug of extra virgin olive oil, and when hot, tip in the onions. Sauté the onions for a whole minute, then add in a pinch of salt and turn the heat down to low and let the onions soften slowly. Once the onions have softened, add the garlic and the anchovies, increase the heat slightly and sauté this for a minute till the anchovies have broken down.
Add the San Marzano tomatoes together with any juices it may have let out into the pan and let the tomatoes reduce for 10-15 minutes stirring frequently over medium-low heat until the tomatoes are tender. Add the tomato purée with the chilli powder and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the chopped coriander leaves and turn the heat off.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add in lots of salt to make the water salty like the sea and after half a minute, add in the dry pasta. Cook according to package instructions or until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta reserving 1/2 cup of its cooking liquid and add both pasta and the liquid to the pan with the tomato sauce. Turn the heat up and stir until the pasta water and the tomato sauce emulsified into a sauce that coats every strand of spaghetti. If adding the capers, do so now. Grate over the Parmesan, stir and taste to see if any more salt is necessary. Transfer to bowls and serve.
Recipe for the Spinach, Spring Onion and Artichoke Dip:
Spinach, Spring Onion and Artichoke Dip
Yield 6 as a dip
Not your average Spinach and Artichoke Dip, this one really packs a punch with plenty of little bits and bobs of flavour that lend itself to a great dip when left alone in the refrigerator. Best if made ahead.
Spinach 300g, blanched, drained and chopped thinly
Artichoke hearts 1/2 tin, drained and chopped
Spring Onions 1 bunch, chopped
Greek yoghurt 400g, plain unflavoured
Mayonnaise 1 cup or 225g
Garlic powder 1 1/2 tsp
Onion powder 1 1/2 tbsp
Red chilli flakes 2 tbsp
Grated parmesan cheese 1/4 cup or 50g
Juice of half a lime
Stir all the above ingredients together and let it sit in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours at least or overnight before serving with crackers or crudites, nachos or chips.