Farfalle with British Pancetta and Italian Artichokes

I have an Italian recipe for you today – using ‘farfalle,’ bow-tie or butterfly pasta and a tasty sauce flavoured with British pancetta, garlic, artichokes, fresh spinach, tomato and cream. This is a lovely supper for a chilly evening and one that reminds me of our wonderful trip to Northern Italy late last spring. A piping hot plate of pasta is the perfect dish to serve up to a large family. The recipe itself is inspired by a new range of Italian products called Parioli Cucina to the theme of ‘seasonal, Italian and savoury.’

Parioli Pasta

One of the things I noticed in Italy, particularly when wandering around the food markets of Bologna, was the abundance of fresh artichokes on offer. The same doesn’t really translate over in Britain and I always think that we’re short of ideas on what to do with artichokes. Granted, preparing fresh artichokes takes a tiny bit of practice, although I follow the steps outlined by David Lebovitz here. As David says “Artichokes are not hard to prepare but they do take a bit of determination.” Since fresh artichokes usually come into season during the late spring (May/June) a good alternative is to use an authentic supply of artichokes in a jar, which are harvested in season, marinated, grilled and then preserved in vegetable oil. I’ve also added British spinach to my dish, from Kent.

Parioli Pasta

A quick note on the British pancetta, too. I was looking out for Italian pancetta, but this caught my eye at the supermarket and as I haven’t seen British pancetta before I was keen to try it. I was impressed to read that it is hand-cured, made with outdoor bred pork and is air dried for ten days. The smoked pancetta really made the dish. It gave it a little extra edge, complimenting the grilled artichokes and fresh spinach beautifully. If you can find some smoked pancetta, do try it in this recipe. Otherwise, use any good quality Italian pancetta you can find.

Parioli Pasta

As to the rest of the ingredients from Parioli Cucina, these are made and imported from Italy. Parioli is a neighbourhood in the north of Rome in Italy and the range includes dried pasta, sauces, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, chopped and plum tomatoes, antipasti (including the grilled artichokes) and olives. For this recipe, I used the Parioli farfalle pasta – which I really liked because the pasta bows were quite small and bite-sized; smaller than farfalle I’ve tried in other ranges. The pasta had a good bite and worked really well with my sauce. I also used some of their tomato sauce called ‘Basilico’ – a Sicilian basil and tomato sauce, made with vine ripened tomatoes from the Puglia region and fresh basil leaves from Neapolitan farms. The sauce had a very rich flavour and I would say was of a better quality to any of the more well-known branded pasta sauces that I’ve tried.

So, all in all, a lovely mix of flavours and textures with both British and Italian ingredients.

I hope you get to try this dish. Let me know if you do and whether you agree with me on the quality of the products used.

Parioli Cucina Range

4.0 from 1 reviews
Farfalle with British Pancetta and Italian Artichokes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A family pasta recipe made with both British seasonal and Italian ingredients from the Parioli Cucina range
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
  • 400g Farfalle or bow-tie pasta (100g per person), I used Parioli Cucina Pasta
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil or oil from the jar of artichokes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 180g pancetta, I used Tesco finest British smoked pancetta
  • 280g jar grilled artichoke hearts, drained, oil reserved, I used the Parioli Cucina brand
  • 170g or half a jar tomato and basil pasta sauce, I used Parioli Cucina ‘Basilico’
  • 450g/ 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 80ml or ⅓ cup double/heavy cream
  • Sea salt for the pasta water
  • Optional, Parmesan cheese for serving
  1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the farfalle according to the packet instructions, or until al dente. When the pasta is cooked, take out one cup of the pasta water and set aside. Drain the rest of the pasta until the sauce is done.
  2. Heat two teaspoons oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and chopped pancetta. Fry until the pancetta is golden brown. Finely chop the artichoke hearts and add them to the pan, stir well. Pour in the tomato sauce and bring to the boil. Stir in the fresh spinach and keep stirring until wilted. Finally, add the reserved cup of pasta water to the pan and stir in the double cream and take the pan off the heat.
  3. Mix the cooked pasta with the sauce. Serve whilst piping hot, with Parmesan cheese grated over the top, if you like.

I’m linking this recipe up with Simple and in Season, a community blog event hosted by me here. The spinach wilted down so much I could have really used twice the amount. It’s also a lovely recipe to bookmark for late Spring when we start to see fresh artichokes in season, too.

Simple and in Season

With many thanks to Parioli Cucina for inviting me to create this recipe. 


  1. says

    I post snippets of my online published content and link them
    back to the source. There are also a wide range of foods that can help you shed pounds quickly.

  2. says

    I don’t usually think of farfalle with tomato based sauces but this looks fabulous and the photos are beautiful. I am off to Tesco shortly and will look out for that finest pancetta, I don’t remember seeing that one in my local before.

    • Ren Behan says

      Thanks Jac, yes a handful of mushrooms would be lovely instead, I think your combo with mushrooms and artichokes, too.

  3. says

    Ren, what a gorgeous recipe. I always bring jars of artichoke hearts back from Brittany, (they grow in abundance near us), so it’s wonderful to find a new recipe for them.

    • Ren Behan says

      Absolutely, you could easily use your own tomato sauce with just a splash of fresh double cream. The real flavour is in the pancetta and in the artichokes.

    • Ren Behan says

      Thanks Sally – the sugar bowl (with the Parmesan) is from the Pip range!! A little friend for the blue jug :-)

    • Ren Behan says

      Thanks for the lovely comment, yet British pancetta and charcuterie in general is becoming more and more available as well as really good quality authentic stuff!

  4. says

    oooh Ren that really looks gorgeous.. I’ve had a couple of really bad bowls of pasta recently and it’s made me wary of ordering it again but this dish looks so good I just have to make it! Happy Belated New Year x

    • Ren Behan says

      Hi Dom, thanks so much for stopping by. Hope this goes some way to rectifying the bad bowls of pasta. It’s such a classic thing to get wrong, though it’s such a simple dish. We’re lucky to have a really authentic Italian close by for when I need a Napoli-style proper al dente fix – if not at home!

    • Ren Behan says

      Thank you Helen, excited to join in with Extra Veg and yes, great to champion British homegrown produce.

  5. says

    This is exactly the sort of food everyone wants to eat at this time of year. And this post is doing nothing for my grumbling stomach post a bowl of beetroot soup for lunch. Argh! x

    • Ren Behan says

      Thank you Leyla, all the best for 2014, thanks for stopping by. Hope you’ve been on some tasty food adventures yourself!

  6. says

    Looks lovely Ren. I love dishes like this that are inspired by other countries but make excellent use of great British produce. Can’t believe I still have homemade pancetta from our pigs in the freezer and spinach still growing in the garden (thanks to our mild winter) – would be delicious in this.

    • Ren Behan says

      Gosh that’s amazing Andrea, you’re so inspiring, British pancetta from your own pigs in the freezer and home grown spinach. All you need now is a little jar of artichokes and you’re on your way! xx