Although this past weekend in Rome was gloriously beautiful, there was one event that clouded my blue skies. As many of you know I visit the Farmers Market on Via San Teodoro every weekend, to stock up on everything I need to see me through the week. Not just vegetables, but literally everything from fruit to nuts. Cheese, fish, beer, bread, eggs….I buy it all directly from the farmers that produce it.
This Saturday, however, due to the completely dysfunctional incompetence of the Rome municipal government, the market was closed. I won’t go into the details here, since I know most of you that are reading this don’t live in Rome. Short story: I went, I signed the petition, I voiced my displeasure with Rome’s mayor and support for the farmers on Facebook.
And then I headed to the Testaccio market to do my weekly shopping.
So really, I have nothing to complain about. I LOVE the Testaccio market. And actually, the unexpected closure of my beloved Farmers Market forced me out of my routine. And I realize that even if the Farmers Market reopens next week (fingers crossed) I should spread my market love around, and do my shopping at some of the other markets around town every now and then.
One of the perks for me about shopping at the Testaccio market is that there is a huge parking lot beneath the building. And since that means I don’t have to lug heavy bags that far, those bags ended up being heavier than usual.
Yes, I over shopped. But everything was just so gorgeous, I couldn’t resist.
And while I managed to buy way too much spinach, broccoli, turnips and oranges what I really over did it on was artichokes. There were mountains of them. There were walls of them. It was a carciofi wonderland.
We will be eating artichokes all week long, raw, cooked and in pasta. Last night we had my friend Sara over for dinner, and I was able to use up four massive globes for our main course, Pasta with Artichokes and Goat Cheese.
The pasta was destined to be delicious from the get go, since I had some amazing ingredients to work with. In addition to the height-of-the-season, almost-too-perfect-to-believe artichokes, I also had a package of organic spaghetti made from ancient grains from Molini del Ponte in Sicily.
But it was the goat cheese that I added at the last minute that was the most special. Sophie is spending the month at a goat farm in Umbria, and on Friday came to Rome for the afternoon and brought me a tub of freshly made, creamy, goat cheese. If you want to see lots of baby goats, I suggest you follow Sophie this month on Instagram. Her Stories with really bad baby goats jumping on anything that stands still (including Sophie’s head) are hysterical.
But back to the pasta.
As I was cooking the pasta last night, I put it on my Instagram Stories and one person asked if they could use frozen artichokes. My answer was that while it certainly wouldn’t be the same, you could certainly give it a try. And if you do, let me know.
And if you can’t get your daughter to bring you fresh goat cheese from a farm in Umbria don’t worry. Any spreadable, creamy, goat cheese will do.
I would definitely have added some fresh mint if I had had some, but I didn’t so I couldn’t. You can.
The pasta: I used a almost whole grain type of dried pasta. But I think that any good quality fettuccine would work as well.
If you want to see what else I end up making this week just follow along on Instagram Stories or else Snapchat. Do you go to a weekly market? What is your weakness when it comes to produce? What can’t you resist buying too much of? I’d love to know.
- 1 pound, 500 grams dried fettuccine
- 4 large artichokes
- 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup creamy, spreadable goat cheese
- ½ cup chopped fresh mint
- Prepare the artichokes:
- Before you begin, fill a big bowl with cold water. Squeeze a half lemon in, and keep the other half handy. Artichokes oxidize quickly, so you have to rub all cut surfaces with a lemon to prevent this. Once you are finished, you will place the cleaned artichoke in the water until you are ready slice them. You’ll also notice that your fingers will probably turn brown too. Either wear thin gloves (which I hate) or else keep rinsing and rubbing lemon on your hands, especially the finger tips.
- Break off the tough, outer leaves of the artichoke, until you get down to the leaves which are tender. You’ll know you’re getting to the tender part by the color. They are usually yellow on the bottom third, and pale violet at the top. When you break off the leaves, do your best to leave on as much of the root of the leaf as possible.
- Once you have taken off the tough outer leaves, use a small knife and gently trim away the bright green parts from the stem end. Don’t cut off too much, just the green part. This part is quite bitter. Immediately rub with lemon.
- Turn the artichoke on its side, and cut off the top third (the pointy end of the artichoke). Make sure your knife is really sharp. Immediately rub the cut part with lemon, and put in acidulated water.
- Pour the olive oil into a saute pan big enough to hold all of the artichokes as well as all of the drained, cooked, pasta.
- Add the chopped onion to the oil and heat over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes.Make sure not to let it brown. Season with salt and pepper.
- Take the artichokes out of the water, and blot dry. Using a sharp knife, but the artichokes in half, removing any choke. Then slice thinly and add to the pan with the onions. Stir after adding each artichokes, so that you prevent discoloration.
- Once all the artichokes are in the pan, add a cup of water. Let the artichokes cook until tender. The amount of time will depend on your artichoke. Let all the water evaporate, and then add the chopped garlic. Let cook for another five minutes.
- In the meantime bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
- Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta water.
- Add the drained pasta to the pan with the artichokes. Heat over medium heat, stirring and adding ½ cup of the pasta water, stirring to heat it all through and blend flavors.
- Turn off the heat and add the goat cheese, and the rest of the pasta cooking water. Stir until blended and creamy. Add the chopped mint and serve.