The Trattoria alla Palma’s Filini D’Erba With Ham and Artichokes

The Trattoria Alla Palma's Filini D'Erba With Artichokes and Ham

The Trattoria Alla Palma’s Filini D’Erba With Artichokes and Ham

There is nothing that says pasta must be served with a red sauce, and in many parts of Italy, especially to the north, you will find sauces based on green vegetables, especially in the winter months when tomatoes are not in season. For example, Chef Claudio Cossalter, of the Trattoria alla Palma, just outside Verona uses artichokes and ham to season these filini d’erba (blades of grass), home made spinach laced tagliatelle.

To serve 4 you’ll need:

6-700 g (1 1/3 – 1 1/2 pounds) artichokes, cleaned and finely sliced (see instructions if need be, and also the note below)
A half a lemon, organic if possible
A garlic clove, unpeeled
Olive oil
225 g (1/2 pound) finely sliced lightly smoked ham, cut into thin strips
360-400 g filini d’erba, fresh green tagliatelle (Store-bought will also work, and if need be you could use dried green tagliatelle or fettuccine)
A walnut-sized chunk of unsalted butter or the equivalent volume of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
A half cup of the pasta water
Freshly grated Parmigiano or Grana Padana cheese — about a cup, probably, though this is to taste
Balsamic vinegar for garnishing
Finely chopped parsley for garnishing
4 warmed deep dish pasta bowls

About the artichokes: When they are in season, Chef Claudio uses Castradure artichokes, which are a small extremely flavorful Venetian cultivar that grows best on the Island of Sant’Erasmo (as a result Castradure are also called Carciofi di Sant’Erasmo). When they are not he uses good quality fairly small artichokes of other kinds.

Clean the artichokes in the Italian way and slice them finely, putting them in a bowl of water with half a lemon (squeeze it lightly) to keep the first artichokes from discoloring while you are cutting the others.

When you have finished slicing the artichokes heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet with the garlic clove, and sauté the artichokes over a medium flame until they are tender, adding a little water if necessary to keep them from drying out. Keep them warm.

While you are cooking the artichokes, set pasta water to boil. When it does, salt it and cook the pasta, timing the remaining steps so the pasta is ready at the same time as the sauce.

Slice the ham into sticks. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a second fairly high-sided skillet, and add the ham.

Sauté the ham briskly, stirring it about; Chef Claudio also tossed it in the pan with a deft flick of the wrist that caused several droplets of oil to ignite.

Remove and discard the garlic clove the artichokes cooked with. Add about 3/4 of the artichokes to the pan. The remainder will serve as garnish, and you should keep them warm.

The next step is to add the pasta to the skillet. The Trattoria alla Palma, like most restaurants, has a large boiler with several wire mesh baskets in which they cook pasta to order as requests come in.

If you are cooking your pasta in a single pot, remove a ladle or so of pasta water before you drain the pasta in a colander, and add the pasta to the sauce before it has dripped completely dry.

Once you have added the pasta, you will want the flame under the pan to be brisk; the total cooking time from this point is a couple of minutes.

Add enough of the reserved water — Chef Claudio added half a ladle’s worth, but this is an indicative amount because different kinds of pasta require different amounts. The important thing is that the dish not be dry, and you add pasta water rather than plain hot water because the starch in the pasta water will contribute to the creaminess of the dish.

Chef Claudio also added a dollop of butter, which was just beginning to melt when I shot the photo. If you prefer, add an equivalent volume of olive oil.

The next step it to add grated cheese; Chef Claudio added about a handful. If your quantity is larger you will want to add more, though exactly how much will depend upon how cheesy you like your pasta. Keep in mind that the cheese should contribute but not predominate.

Stir everything together briskly to combine the ingredients and coat the pasta with the sauce.

This will look nicest if you serve it in individual bowls; divvy the pasta up evenly and top it with the reserved artichokes. Chef Claudio garnishes with a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, and a light dusting of finely chopped parsley, on the plate around the pasta.

Enjoy!

This Recipe, Illustrated

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Categories: Green Sauces for Pasta

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.

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