Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Pizza and a Pasta Featuring Artichokes

In my previous post, I promised a couple of recipes using turned artichokes. As anyone who regularly attends my cooking classes will tell you, I am particularly fond of pasta and pizza. Both make fabulous vehicles for seasonal vegetables and are amenable to endless variations according to whatever you happen to have in your pantry on a given day.

I make this particular pizza a lot when artichokes are in season. To prepare the artichokes for the pizza, I roast the turned halves. The basic recipe is from Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking. The recipe is for six artichokes. You will only need two to make the pizza. The recipe is easily divided (make sure you use a pan that just holds the number of artichokes you are roasting--if the pan is too large, the artichokes will tend to burn), or you can make the whole recipe and reserve the remaining artichokes for adding to pastas, vegetable ragouts, salads, etc.

Michael Chiarello's Roasted Artichokes: Turn and halve six artichokes, dropping them into 1/3 cup of lemon juice as you work. Transfer the artichokes and lemon juice to a sauté pan and add 2/3 cup of olive oil, 3 halved cloves of garlic, 2 or 3 sprigs of thyme, and a bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Here are the two artichokes that I roasted (my pan is a bit large, another artichoke would have been easily accommodated by this pan):

Place the pan over moderate heat and bring to a simmer. Toss or stir to coat the artichokes with the seasonings and transfer to a 325° oven. Roast until the artichokes are browned in spots and tender when pierced, about 35 minutes. Let the artichokes cool. The artichokes are now ready for any number of preparations. They could be cut into wedges or used as they are. For the pizza, I placed them cut side down on the cutting board and sliced them 1/3-inch thick:

You will need dough for a 12-inch pizza. I use the pizza dough recipe in The New Basics Cookbook, but feel free to use your own recipe—you will need a piece of dough that weighs about 10 ounces and has been allowed to rise once.

Mushroom & Artichoke Pizza

Dough for a 12-inch pizza, made through the first rise
Olive oil
1 small or half a large red onion, thinly sliced
Several sprigs of thyme, picked
4 oz. Oyster mushrooms, trimmed and torn into 1-inch pieces
2 Artichokes, roasted and sliced as described above
4 to 5 oz. coarsely grated Fontina Cheese

Place a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil along with the red onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté, tossing occasionally, until the onion is softened and caramelized in spots—about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and toss to combine. Set aside.

Heat another sauté pan, preferably non-stick, over high heat. Add some olive oil and then the mushrooms. Quickly sauté until tender and nicely browned. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

Build the pizza: On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a pizza pan or baking sheet that has been lightly dusted with semolina, fine cornmeal, or flour. Using your fingers, push up the edges of the dough to make a slight rim. Spread a thin layer of olive oil over the crust. Scatter with half of the cheese. Scatter onions, followed by the mushrooms, followed by the artichokes evenly over the cheese. Top with the remaining cheese:

I apologize for the slightly blurry picture, but I wanted to post it because I think it's important to see that the pizza is not over-loaded with toppings. If you look carefully, you can see small patches of crust through the toppings. More of a good thing is not always better. In the case of pizza toppings, too much can lead to an undercooked or soggy crust.

Place the pizza in its pan on a pre-heated pizza stone in a pre-heated 450° to 500° oven. (If you are adept with the use of a peel, build the pizza on the peel and slide the pizza directly onto the hot stone.) Bake until the crust is golden brown on the bottom and the cheese is bubbling, about 12 to 15 minutes. To insure a crisp crust, slide the pizza off of the pan to finish cooking directly on the pizza stone for the last minute or two of baking. When the pizza is done, transfer to a cutting board and cut into wedges and serve.

This pizza will serve 2 to 4 people, depending on appetites and what else you are serving.

Printable Version

Occasionally, when I make this pizza, instead of roasting the artichoke halves, I slice them while they are raw and sauté them. If you like a little heat, add a sprinkling of hot pepper flakes with the bottom layer of cheese. Vary the cheese by using Monterey Jack instead of Fontina, blending finely grated Parmesan with the Fontina, or substituting crumbled goat cheese for half of the Fontina. You could also use another variety of mushroom, but I particularly like the flavor of the oyster mushrooms with the artichokes.

Even more than pizza, pasta is what I turn to for a quick weeknight meal.  I love pasta.  I never seem to tire of it.  This artichoke pasta is one that came about the way pasta dishes often do at my house:  I knew I wanted to use my artichokes, so I opened the refrigerator, freezer and pantry to see what else I had on hand.  I found some pancetta, shallots, white wine, heavy cream, Parmesan & Pecorino.

That sounds like pasta sauce to me.  If it were a little bit later in the season, some fresh tarragon or chives from my garden would have found their way into this dish as well.

Gemelli with Creamy Artichoke Sauce

1/2 oz. pancetta, cut into a 1/2-inch julienne
1 medium shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
pinch of hot pepper flakes
Olive oil
2 large artichokes, turned and rubbed with lemon juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/3 to 1/2 c. heavy cream
4 or 5 T. finely grated mix of Parmesan & Pecorino
8 oz. Gemelli

Melt a half tablespoon of butter with a little olive oil in a medium sauté pan set over moderate heat.  Add the shallot, pancetta and pepper flakes.  Cook gently until the shallots are transluscent and the pancetta is rendered.

While the shallots cook, slice the artichoke halves 1/4-inch thick and cut the slices into rough 1/4-inch batonettes:

Add the artichokes to the pan along with a pinch of salt and continue to cook for a minute or two--add more butter if the pan seems dry.  The artichokes should be lightly coated with fat and sizzling gently.  They should not be caramelizing.    Increase the heat and add the white wine.  Reduce by half.  Add enough water (if you have some chicken stock on hand, use that) to barely cover the artichoke pieces.  Season with salt.  Cover and simmer gently until the artichokes are tender--20 to 30 minutes.  Add more water or stock as necessary to maintain a small amount of liquid in the pan.

When the artichokes are almost tender, drop the pasta into a large pot of rapidly boiling, salted water. Stir occasionally and cook until the pasta is al dente. Drain, reserving some of the pasta water.

While the pasta is cooking, add the cream to the artichoke sauce and bring to a simmer.  When the sauce is slightly thickened, remove the pan from the heat. 

Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to coat.  If the pasta seems dry, add some of the pasta water.  Add a couple tablespoons of the cheese and toss again, once again adusting the consistency of the sauce with the pasta water if necessary.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.  Serve with more cheese on top.  Serves 2 to 3.

I don't know if it's all right to post a picture of a half eaten plate of pasta, but I do so to illustrate what a properly sauced plate of pasta should look like.  Notice that the sauce is not pooling on the plate.  The noodles are just coated with a fluid film of sauce.  Just enough sauce....and no more...

I finished the rest.  It made a very satisfying dinner for a cool spring evening.   

1 comment:

Katrina said...

Now if you could just convince my husband that's enough sauce, he thinks pasta should be swimmin'.

Love your detailed posts.