Every spring, my Facebook and Instagram feeds are flooded with photos of perfect, robust, purple-tinged artichokes from markets in and around Rome. Food writer and Rome expert Elizabeth Minchilli even coined a cute and clever IG hashtag dedicated to the thistle – #carciofogram.
I have a pretty uncomplicated love-hate relationship with artichokes. Love to eat them; hate to clean them. Perhaps I wouldn’t have such an aversion to peeling back leaf after leaf after leaf (after leaf) if the artichokes available to me here in New York even remotely resembled the purple beauties the Rome bloggers tortuously parade on various social media sites. The artichokes that I find, however, even at their peak, consistently disappoint. I was tempted to post a photo of a mountain of sad-looking artichokes with brown-tipped leaves at my local Fairway the other day with the hashtag #anticarciofogramNYC.
So when asked by a client to prepare my ravioli ai carciofi, I sweetly replied over the phone, “of course,” and proceeded to pound my fist against the dashboard after I hung up. I drove to three (high-end) markets in search of some decent baby artichokes, which are less of a chore to clean and more tender when cooked, but to no avail. They looked sickly – like a decrepit great-uncle of the gorgeous Roman globes. So I’m not ashamed to admit that at the final market, I surrendered. I marched over to the frozen food aisle and picked up a package of frozen artichoke hearts. And you know what, those ravioli were damned good – maybe not Rome-artichoke good, but good nonetheless.
For more Carciofi Trials, check out my blog post from last spring which includes a recipe for artichoke and shrimp risotto.
Ravioli ai Carciofi
Yield & Dough: Approx. 80 two-inch ravioli using pasta dough that consists of 4 whole eggs, 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup of EVOO and a few tablespoons of water. Since this filling is quite delicate, I suggest rolling out your pasta dough thin, to the 7th notch of your pasta machine.
Shape: I think the mezzaluna shape is quite fitting for this elegant pasta dish. It would be a lovely first course on Easter.
- 8 baby artichokes, cleaned or a 9-oz package frozen artichoke hearts
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/3 cup ricotta
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp teaspoon sea salt (½ to sweat onions and ½ in filling) & several grindings of black peppers
If using fresh baby artichokes, using a serrated knife, cut off the prickly top third of the baby artichokes and discard. Pull back each dark outer leaf and snap it off at the base until you reach the tender, pale green inner leaves. Use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the tough outer layers around the stem and cut off the bottom 1/4 inch of the stem. Slice the cleaned artichokes in half with a serrated knife and then slice into pieces about 1/2 inch thick. Place them in a bowl of water acidulated with the juice of a lemon.
If using frozen artichoke hearts, cut into ½ inch pieces and let thaw for a few minutes.
Add the olive oil to a skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chopped onion and ½ teaspoon of salt and sauté, stirring often until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the artichokes, garlic and wine, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and cook, covered for 15 minutes. Reserving juices, strain the contents of the pan through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Transfer artichoke mixture to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature and then add Parmigiano, ricotta, parsley, egg, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
Transfer contents to a piping bag and fill ravioli in whatever shape and size you desire.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a low boil. In batches of 15-20, cook the ravioli in the pot until tender, about 2 minutes . Using a slotted spoon, add ravioli to a wide skillet containing the sauce (see below) along with about ½ cup of the pasta cooking water and allow to simmer for about a minute. Serve immediately and top with grated Parmigiano and chopped parsley.
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
In a large skillet, heat butter over medium high heat until it is melted and the edges begin to caramelize. Add the reserved artichoke pan juices, reduce the heat to low and simmer for a minute or so.