Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rigatoni with white wine-braised artichokes and peas

Last Tuesday was my name day and we had way too many watermelon and cantaloupe daiquiris, splurged on good sushi and ate one of the best chocolate ice creams I’ve ever had as well as some chocolate ganache tartlets for good measure.

The rest of the week was a bit of a blur. I cleaned the house top to bottom in the middle of yet another mini heatwave (don’t you hate cleaning in the summer?), because we have house guests coming in a few days and they are not used to our mess. Yes, we are messy. I so admire and envy those tidy people who keep their house instagram-ready at all times.

I went shopping, stocking up on things for our guests, for the house, pour moi, and I slept like a log. This heat is making me feel tired all the time and I want to go to sleep from the moment I wake up.

I cooked, just barely, and only because S started complaining about all the raw salads and sandwiches we’ve been having lately. Well, can’t blame him, but you know, in the daily match of heat versus kitchen, heat wins. Truth be told, I was craving something more substantial too, and I also missed sitting down to a proper dinner.

I found some good artichokes at the market and the idea of this pasta dish was born. It was a little summer miracle, even though I had a bit of a hard time with the fresh artichokes that took twenty minutes to clean, but they were so beautiful I couldn’t resist them.

I had capers from Santorini in my fridge, peas in my freezer, a packet of rigatoni in my cupboard and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. The dish was absolutely delicious, fresh, and light, with sweet flavor from the peas, meaty, slightly bitter taste from the artichokes, with saltiness from the plump capers and vibrancy from the wine. Overall, a harmonious, lovely, summery pasta dish.

Rigatoni with white wine-braised artichokes and peas, with capers and lemon

Naturally, fresh peas will be even better than frozen as they’ll be sweeter.
If you’d rather not spend your time peeling and cleaning fresh artichokes, use frozen artichoke hearts bearing in mind that they will need more cooking. However, fresh artichokes have a superior flavor. Just sayin’.

Yield: 4 servings

4 fresh globe artichokes, about 300 g each
1 lemon (to use for cleaning the artichoke)

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
120 g frozen peas
Grated zest of 1 lemon
250 ml dry white wine (I used Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc)
2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
Freshly ground black pepper

A handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
Parmesan, grated
Olive oil, for finishing
Juice of ½ lemon

400 g rigatoni pasta

Special equipment: grater, colander


Peel and clean the artichokes
Fill a large bowl with water halfway and add the juice of 1 lemon. Keep the lemon cups.
Take each artichoke and peel off the leaves, starting from the bottom. Remove all the leaves, including the soft purple ones in the middle. Then remove the hairy choke scooping it out with a spoon. Using a lemon cup, rub well the artichoke center. This will protect it and it will not turn black. With a knife, cut around the artichoke heart in order to remove the hard base if each leaf you have removed and cut off the stem. Rub the artichoke again all around with the lemon cup and place it in the bowl of water and lemon juice.
Continue cleaning the rest in the same way.

In a large, wide, heavy-bottomed pan, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat and add the shallots. Sauté, stirring often until they begin to color, then add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, being careful not to burn it.
Take each cleaned artichoke, cut it into strips (4-5 strips each) and add it to the pan along with the frozen peas, a little salt and pepper, and the lemon zest and sauté for a couple of minutes.
Add the wine, allow it to come to the boil so the alcohol evaporates and turn heat down to low. Put on the lid and simmer, stirring every so often, until the artichokes have softened bur remain al dente. You don’t want them to become mushy. They’ll take about 25 minutes. Five minutes before the artichokes are done, add the capers and stir well.

In the meantime, while the artichokes and peas are cooking, prepare the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil over high heat and add the rigatoni. Cook until al dente (firm but not very hard) or cook to your liking. Reserve about 60 ml (1/4 cup) of the pasta water and drain the rigatoni in a colander (but don't shake the pasta), discarding the rest of the water.

When the artichokes are ready, add the drained rigatoni to the pan. Add the lemon juice, half of the parsley, a little pepper and a good grating of parmesan and toss well to mix. If it’s dry, add some of the pasta water to the pan and toss again.

Serve immediately in individual plates. Sprinkle with the rest of the parsley and grate parmesan on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil to finish (and a little extra lemon juice if you wish).


  1. My stomach legit just growled when I saw these photos. At 8:00 a.m. YUM!


  2. I absolutely love simple vegetarian pasta to highlight fresh produce! I've always struggled preventing artichokes from oxidizing but I think I need more lemon.

  3. This does look like a lovely summer pasta dish! Summer produce has a way of inspiring the most simple but delicious recipes, doesn't it?!I love the lemony wine sauce with capers, and I enjoy artichokes but rarely cook with them at home. Must change that!

  4. Looks gorgeous and very tasty! It is funny, what you call artichoke hearts, we in the states call artichoke bottoms. For us, the hearts are the very inner tender leaves of baby artichokes. I like that you use the bottoms/hearts - they are the best part of the beast! ~ David

    PS - hope the heat wave ends soon!

  5. Lots of sandwiches and salad over here, too. I'm trying to be grateful that it's not raining, but its hard to sleep some nights with the heat! Magda - this looks lovely. I love the idea of anticipation in this dish... is it pea or caper in each bite? Both. I lovelove artichoke hearts.

  6. Chronia Polla for your name day Magda! Artichokes and peas are one of my favourite combinations - I'm bookmarking your lovely recipe for spring here in Australia, which is just around the corner for the super, fresh first season artichokes xx

  7. Oh my Magda, that first artichoke photo stopped me in my tracks... so so beautiful!

    Happy name day to you. When we were in Folegandros, it was my husband's name day and we got a kick out of the whole notion... we don't have anything like it in the US.

    I hope you're well and enjoying the summer. It's so gloomy here in SF this week that I actually got jealous of your heatwave;)


  8. Oh my this look really awesome! x