Sunday, 11 March 2012

Stalking Your Supper

Risoni con Steli di Carcofi, Pastinaca, Limone, Menta & Sambuca
Risoni with Artichoke Stalks, Parsnip, Lemon, Mint, Olive & Sambuca

Yes indeed- artichokes for supper- which you will have already seen on my following post no doubt, so how wonderful to have this extra little treat, made from the surprisingly tender stalks. I am always particularly tempted when I see artichokes on sale that have not had the stalks cut away... being Sicilian I know how delicious cardoons are and the stalk of the artichoke is vary similar.

I cut the stalk off and cut away the fibrous outer layer which was pretty thick- I probably ended up discarding more than half of the stalk that way- but what remained was tender enough for me to reconsider what I was going to do with it. Originally, I had intended to make a soup, as the stalks give an excellent healthy and delicious broth- but these stalks were good enough to EAT!

After peeling, remember to always squeeze or rub with lemon juice, to keep the artichoke from oxidizing and turning brown. I cut the stalks on a diagonal in order to have a larger surface exposed and to shorten the cooking time- they do usually take quite a long time!

I put them into a frying pan along with a little very finely diced parsnip, a little garlic and a little olive oil and stir-fried them until they began to turn translucent. I then added some very finely sliced mint and the risoni and deglazed the pan with a good shot of Sambuca. I covered the risoni and stalks with boiling water and seasoned with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg and stirred until the water was almost absorbed. And yes- you guessed it, the rest of the procedure is the same as when making risotto- add broth, stir, add both, stir... repeat until rice or risoni are good and have a firm but creamy consistency. I wanted to only have the flavor of the artichoke, the lemon , the mint and the Sambuca for this dish- so I stuck to water rather than broth, which I thought would have altered the flavors too much.

Towards the end of the cooking time, I grated it with a little fresh nutmeg, added a splash or two of green Tabasco, some finely chopped Spring onion and some finely sliced lemon zest. I served it up with some sliced Kalamata olives, a sprinkle of chives and a drizzle of olive oil... and very delicious it was too!

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