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