The artichoke quest and the marriage with saffron linguine

Saffron and artichoke linguine4 Servings

Artichokes are my favorite vegetables. I would eat them from breakfast to dinner (sort of…)! When I moved to our neck of the woods, I started testing the quality of the local vegetables and I have to admit that the benevolence of the gods was not on my side in my quest for my beloved veggies. All the artichokes that I tried tasted like soap (blah!!!) and the inside was so full of hairs that it was like eating a hairball (double blah!!!) After trying for over a year, I decided I was just wasting my time and my money, so I simply stopped buying artichokes. Sad.

However, as the saying goes, good things happen when you least expect it. Last week, Stefano took me to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Never been there? You do not know what you are missing if you are a lover of Italian food and authentic Italian products (we’ll talk more about Arthur Avenue in future posts). Anyway, while I was strolling about the market, the green beauties caught my eyes. Mindful of my past experience, I was about to pass, when the grocer called me. He was Italian and we started chatting in my mother tongue. He swore on his mother’s grave (Italian grocers do that!) that the artichokes were excellent and I would not be disappointed. I trusted him (after all, swearing on someone’s grave has got to mean something, right?!?) and that Italian grocer is the reason why I’m sharing this recipe today.

Just bear with me a few more seconds. When I made this dish I used an Italian heavy cream called “Panna Chef” by Parmalat. Panna Chef is much ticker than the heavy cream I buy locally. It is like a paste. So far, I have never seen Panna Chef on any shelf of any American grocery store or market I have been to. I usually have family and friends bring me some packs over when they come to visit. When I do not have any Panna Chef left, I buy a small pack of local heavy cream and I beat it the same way you beat egg white to make meringue. That’s the kind of thickness you want to achieve to make this dish.


4 artichokes
1 lemon
1/3 cup & 1 Tbsp, extravirgin olive oil
1/2 cup, white wine
1 & 1/2 cup, beef stock
3 slices of bacon or pancetta, ¼ inch thick
1/3 cup, chopped onion
6 Tbsp, Panna Chef
2 sachets of powered saffron
14 oz linguine (a little less than a pack)
2 Tbsp grated Parmigiano cheese (optional)
Ground black pepper

Saffron and artichoke linguineDirections:

Put some cold water into a large bowl. Squeeze a half lemon and put the juice and the half lemon itself into the bowl.

Break off the tough, outer leaves of the artichokes until you reach the tender, lighter-green inner leaves. With the help of a knife, cut off the top of the artichoke (between 1 and 1 1/2 inches), some of the stem (leaving about 3/4 of an inch) and then trim away the outer layer of the stem. With the other half lemon, rub all the cut surfaces (this will prevent them from browning).

Cut the artichoke halves into quarters and put them into the lemon water.

Cut up the bacon or the pancetta into bits. In a non-stick skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil, add the bacon or the pancetta and fry for 2/3 minutes. Add the chopped onions and stir occasionally until the bacon or the pancetta gets golden and crispy. Set aside.

Put 1/3 cup of olive oil and the garlic in a large non-stick skillet and brown the garlic. Add the artichokes, some salt and pepper (to taste), toss to coat and cook for a few minutes. Throw the garlic away and add the wine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine completely evaporates. Add the beef stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until the stock completely evaporates.

Add the bacon or the pancetta and the onions into the skillet with the artichokes, toss to coat and set aside.

Put a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil.  When the water is boiling, add the linguine and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally.

While the linguine are cooking, in a small pot, put the panna, 1 Tbs of the boiling water from the pot where you are cooking the pasta, and the saffron and cook until the mixture gets hot.

Drain the linguine, put them into the skillet with the artichokes and the bacon or pancetta and toss to coat. Add the hot saffron mixture and toss to coat again.

Put the linguine into the serving plates and, if you wish, dust the top of each plate with the parmigiano cheese.

Buon appetito!

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0 thoughts on “The artichoke quest and the marriage with saffron linguine

  1. Dina

    Oh dear Francesca, this is totally yummy reading from beginning to end. I have never been to New York and now I want to see Arthur Avenue… Artichoke, if they’re good, they’re sooo delicious, your presentation is a delight.

  2. Tonette Joyce

    Oh, Francesca, YUM! I am sorry that I have been out-of-touch; I have even neglected my own Food, Friends, family until last night.I am making an effort to visit you and my blogger-friends to catch up .I will be back soon to see what I have missed.

  3. ChgoJohn

    Good artichokes are worth their weight in gold, Francesca, and I’m glad you found some. I’ve been on a baby artichoke binge of late and prepare them with pasta, too. My dish, though, is more along the lines of an aglio e olio.Your dish sounds delicious and I cannot wait to give it a try. Pancetta, beef stock, wine, These ingredients bring a great deal of flavor to a recipe. Although I’ve heard of Panna Chef, I’ve never seen it here. I will definitely follow your suggestion, though, of whipping the cream before adding it to the dish. THanks, Francesca, for sharing your wonderful recipe.

  4. talkavino

    That looks absolutely delicious. I have to admit that artichoke is probably the only vegetable which intimidates me – I tried cooking it once, failed, and since then it is on my “do not touch” list… I might have to try it again, especially if you will approve the artichokes in our local Fairway : )

  5. Just Add Attitude

    Francesca I am pleased to hear that you found a good source for genuine Italian foodstuffs. I have never heard of Panna Chef, it sounds like an interesting ingredient. The recipe sounds delicious. I love artickokes too but I confess that I buy them ready prepared from deli’s and I am not sure I could eat them for breakfast! I love the pearls by the way – they are beautiful. 😉

  6. Fae's Twist & Tango

    – Your dish look beautiful and the ingredients are marvelous!
    – I learned two things here: 1) I will check out Arthur’s Avenue in the Bronx next time we travel to New York (thank you Stefano) and 2) about an Italian cream called Panna Chef! 😀

  7. gotasté

    Francesca your artichoke linguine is making my mouth water. How I wish there will be a grocer who will stop me for a great artichoke too! 🙂 I saw in some food programs where people are sucking the lower part of the outer leaves. What are they actually eating? The juice of the artichoke? …..danny

    1. Francesca Post author

      Danny, sorry it took me so long to get back to you. No, it’s not the juice, it’s the pulpy and tender part of the artichoke which is located at the bottom of the leaf, attached to the heart. People usually dip the pulpy part in a sauce, holding the other end of the leaf with their hand. They put the leaf in their mouth dip side down and, pulling through their teeth, eat the great tasting pulp. Then they throw the remaining leaf away. Hope this helps. 🙂

      1. gotasté

        Not at all Francesca. I appreciate your reply very much. Now I know why it is eaten that way. Google doesn’t seem to provide good explanation like yours. Thank you 😄
        Best Wishes

  8. Kiara Style

    Yummy, Francesca 🙂 I love both artichokes and saffron….I bet Mascarpone would be a great pair for this recipe. If I find good artichokes…hard in Ca believe it or not….I will try it out and let you know. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

    1. Francesca Post author

      Oh I do believe you! The artichokes that I can buy locally and I don’t like are all grown in California. At least, that’s what their pack says. 😉 Thank you for your comment, Chiara.

  9. apuginthekitchen

    Oh I love going to Arthur Ave. They have the best Italian foods, fruits, vegetables, bakeries, wow, I could go on and on. Yes, I would trust an Italian that swears on a grave, it’s not taken lightly. So glad you were able to get good artichokes to make this glorious. dish. I have used the Parmalat heavy cream in Italy but you are right have never seen it here. Wonderful dish, the saffron linguine, I just love saffron. I wondered if you could use mascarpone instead of the panna chef, it’s sweet creamy and doesn’t in my opinion resemble cheese. Do you think it could work?