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Saving the best till last

As of today I’ve clocked 26 days sober. Not consecutively, but definitely since July 2021.

If Dry January isn’t going so well, then Veganuary certainly is. And so we turn to our final vegan recipe of the month: spaghetti with spiny artichokes and olives.

This less well-known (but super easy) dish showcases the incredible spiny artichokes which are found in Italy from early winter to mid-spring. They require less prep and cooking time than larger globe artichokes, and have a wonderfully delicate and sweet flavour.

This week’s album: Bat Out of Hell II:
Back into Hell by Meat Loaf

It’s only right to celebrate Meat Loaf this week, and this is the album I remember being played around the house when I was growing up. The opening track ‘I’d Do Anything For Love’ might have been overplayed on the radio but the full length version is definitely worth another listen given its incredible (and lengthy) intro.

Mixing business with pleasure

‘Pasta ai carciofi’ or ‘pasta with artichokes’ is a classic Italian dish. However, the inspiration for this week’s dish actually came from a recent Eat My Words 'business' lunch (I say business in the same way 20 people drinking beers in a garden is a business event... Morning Prime Minister).

One of the courses at said-lunch was tonnarelli with artichokes and mussels. Although the mussels were great, it was the artichokes that really made the dish and I wanted to share some of that pleasure with you.

Some of the best artichokes come from Rome and, when in season, you’ll find them on most restaurant menus.

They’re often paired with guanciale - an Italian cured meat that’s typical of Roman cuisine and can be found in three of the four famous Roman pasta dishes: cacio e pepe, carbonara, gricia, and amatriciana.

We’ll explore those final two dishes soon, but won’t be using guanciale this week. Instead we’re going for olives as they’ll provide a really great salty ‘pop’ to the subtle flavour of the artichokes.

FYI: prepping artichokes can be a bit of a faff. Fortunately, the baby and spiny artichokes available right now are a lot easier to prep than the larger globe artichokes. They have a far smaller choke that is easily removed, their leaves are more tender (so you can eat the majority), and most of the stalk is edible.

What you need

The below serves 2. It takes 15 mins to prep, then 15 mins to cook.

200g dried pasta (linguine, spaghetti, pappardelle, vermicelli etc)
4 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
3 spiny or 4 baby artichokes
1 lemon
(cut in half)
2 garlic cloves (finely chopped or grated)
125ml white wine (vegan-friendly)
60g olives (de-stoned & roughly chopped)
10g parsley leaves (roughly chopped)
Sea salt & black pepper

Ready, steady, cook

1. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta.

2. Cut your lemon in half (this is so it’s ready to rub the artichokes which will oxide pretty quickly).

3. To remove the artichoke’s spikes, use a serrated knife to trim the top third of them. Then, with your hands, peel back and snap off the tougher outer leaves until you reach the more tender and paler leaves. Get rid of all the trimmings.

Cut the stem to leave 6-8cm intact, or as much as possible if the stem isn't long. Using either a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler, remove a small layer of the tough outer part of the stem. Similarly, use a knife or peeler to trim and smooth over/remove any remaining dark/tough parts from where you’ve removed the outer leaves.

As you do all this, periodically rub the artichokes with the cut lemon. Finally, cut in half lengthwise, remove the small heart with a knife or scrape out with a teaspoon, and then slice lengthwise into strips about ½ cm thick. If you've left the stem long, you can cut it off to slice more easily.

4. Place a large frying pan onto a medium-high heat. Add the extra-virgin olive oil. When hot, put in the sliced artichokes with a generous pinch of salt.

5. Meanwhile, add the pasta to your boiling water and set a timer for a minute less than the packet instructions for ‘al dente’.

6. Continue to cook the artichokes for 3 mins, stirring regularly, until they have softened and become tender. Now turn the heat down slightly and add the finely chopped garlic. Cook gently for 2 mins and then turn the heat back up and add the white wine.

Leave to cook on a high heat until the alcohol taste has burnt off (a couple of mins). Add in the chopped olives and set aside until the pasta is ready.

7. When the pasta is ready, transfer directly to the frying pan along with some of the cooking water. Stir vigorously over a high heat for 2 mins, or until the oil and water emulsify to form a viscous sauce.

8. Season with a squeeze of lemon juice, some freshly ground black pepper, another good glug of extra-virgin olive oil, and the chopped parsley. Stir again before serving on warmed plates.
Final thought

Nothing to add this week, so a shameless plug to go and like our Instagram posts.

Same time next week,


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Eat My Words · Kew Gardens · Kew, TW9 · United Kingdom

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