When buying artichokes, look for ones that are firm, tightly closed and without holes or bruises. Purplish markings on the leaves are not blemishes, just a touch of frost that some say indicates a sweeter flavor.
Artichokes are a notoriously bad match for wine because a chemical in them makes any wine taste sweet, but this dish works well with a simple, fresh, citrusy white wine like Pinot Grigio or Muller Thurgau.
- 3 medium medium artichokes
- 1 small medium onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 clove medium garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1 pound fettuccine pasta
- 2 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced, stacked and cut into narrow crosswise strips
Cut off the top 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the artichokes and discard. Rinse the artichokes under cold water, spreading the leaves open. Carefully bend back the outer dark green leaves and snap them off close to the base; continue removing the leaves in the same manner until you reach the pale yellowish cone of tender leaves at the center. With a vegetable peeler or paring knife, peel off the tough outer skin around the base of the leaves and along the stem. Leave the stem attached to the base but trim and discard the end. Cut the artichokes in half lengthwise and scoop out the fuzzy chokes. Cut the halves lengthwise into thin slices.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of cold water to a boil for the pasta.
In a medium saucepan, cook the onion and parsley in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion is very tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the artichoke slices, wine and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook until the artichokes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. Add the peas and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the fettuccine and salt to taste to the pot of boiling water. Cook, stirring frequently, until the fettuccine is tender yet firm to the bite, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pan with the artichoke mixture and toss well, adding some of the cooking water if the mixture seems dry. Add the prosciutto and stir again. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Michele Scicolone, author of "A Fresh Taste of Italy" (Broadway Books, 1997).
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