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Spaghetti Carbonara with Artichokes

The last time I made Spaghetti Carbonara was probably 15 years ago. One day after school my friend Valeria and I decided to head to my house for lunch. Since pasta and eggs were available in the pantry I enthusiastically suggested that we cook Carbonara, without of course having any clue about how to make it. In that stage of my life cooking was pretty simple in my head -- just a matter of mixing ingredients, in that case pasta, eggs and cheese.  I didn't consider that how those were combined could actually affect the result.

I mixed the eggs in a bowl with cheese and pepper and then I added the drained pasta and served it to my friend. She had a bite and then said that that raw egg sauce was absolutely disgusting. She was definitely right and we threw everything away.

Only yesterday I realized how that unfortunate carbonara-experience in some way affected me. Even tough I loved a properly made Carbonara I've never cooked it since that time as I was afraid of the outcome. But every time I visit my family in Florence I go to Staccia Buratta, a tiny restaurant in my village and order, when in season, their Carbonara with Artichokes that I think is amazing. This place is a hidden gem and I highly recommend to anyone who goes to Florence to have lunch or dinner there. Not only are their ingredients organic and local but the combinations of flavors is so sophisticated and simple at the same time that is always surprising. It's all about real people and good local food. 

Despite my first unpleasant experience making carbonara, I definitely wanted to include the Staccia Buratta's version in the book so I decided to give it a try. It came out perfect, silky and creamy, no raw eggs or scrambled, just how it should be. Plus the artichokes added a great flavor.

Once my husband and I devoured the whole pan, I texted my friend Valeria, who now lives in Nairobi, Kenya and told her how 15 years later I had made Carbonara again and that it turned out quite delicious! She replied saying that my carbonara had traumatized her so much that she never ate it again. We both laugh recalling that memory and how my unfortunate recipe had affected us. Even better was realizing how despite all the countries we have lived in and how our lives have taken different paths we have always stayed  friends, in spite of everything, even that terrible carbonara!

Serves 2-4 

Notes :

- Here in Oregon I can find only Globe artichokes that are very different from the one that I'd usually buy in Italy. In Tuscany you can find a smaller variety with the tip of the leaves purple. They are called 'Mammole' and are very tender. You can eat them raw as a carpaccio, with shaved parmesan, olive oil and lemon. If I had access to this kind I wouldn't boil them for this recipe, I will simply sauté them in the pan with garlic and olive oil. Since the globe artichokes are more fibrous and hard I prefer to boil them first. You can also steam them if you like.

- I didn't have time to take pictures because I wanted to eat it so badly that I couldn't wait. Also carbonara should be eaten straight away or it will turn out dry.


Ingredients :

270 gr/10 oz of spaghetti

2 organic eggs + 2 egg yolk

3 globe artichokes

50 gr/ 1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese + more for serving

1 tea spoon of freshly grated black pepper + more for serving

4 table spoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic



Instructions :

Wash the artichokes and clean them. I have my personal technique to remove all the hard and fibrous parts of the artichokes. Feel free to follow mine or you can do it the way you prefer.

I start by peeling off the first 2-3 layers of leaves, then I slice off the top. Cut off the excess stem leaving up to an inch below the artichoke head. 


Choose a medium/large pot that you'll use to boil the artichokes and then to cook the pasta. Add water and salt and let it boil. Then add the artichokes and cook for about 10 minutes or until tender. You can check by poking the artichoke with a knife and if it goes to center smoothly means that it's tender. 

In the meanwhile in a large frying pan add the olive oil and the peeled garlic. Leave the garlic whole, it will infuse gently the olive oil without getting over the flavour of the dish. Carbonara should not taste like garlic! Gently fry on low heat for a couple of minutes.

Once the artichokes are soft, remove them from the pot by using tongs or a spoon and place them on a cutting board. Don't discard the water, you can use it to cook the pasta. Slice the artichokes vertically. Add them to the the frying pan and let them deepen their flavour with the garlic and olive oil for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Taste and see if they need a pinch of salt. Remove from the heat and discard the garlic.

In the pot with boiling water add the spaghetti and cook according to the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. This will help for the sauce.

While the pasta is cooking, in a small bowl whisk the 2 whole eggs and the egg yolks with the parmesan, black pepper and pinch of salt.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the frying pan with the artichokes and toss it well for one minute.

Remove from the heat and add  to the pan the egg mixture, 2 table spoons of reserved pasta water and toss to coat all the pasta with the sauce. The egg mixture and the starchy water should create a nice creamy sauce and it will cook in the residual heat from the pan. You don't want have scrambled eggs with your pasta!

You can cook the pasta for one more minute on very low heat and add more starchy water if it seems to dry.

Grate the parmesan cheese on top and add more black pepper and serve immediately. It gets very dry if it seats in the pan. Don't be shy with the black pepper. It should taste creamy and also have the kick of the pepper in your mouth.





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Created: October 19, 2018

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