I’m back to share my delightful culinary stylings with the faithful, and that guy who thinks the food on here looks like unappetizing crap. Yup, you too, buddy. You make me want to try harder, so thank you. This week Juve takes on Lazio. Cue dark and ominous music and perhaps a few of Vader’s labored mechanical breaths. I mean… I used to know Lazio merely as my ex’s team; a team I just didn’t care much about one way or the other and who wore jerseys I really couldn’t get too excited about (you want your kit to say Siemens or Jeep… be honest?). Go ahead, laugh. You won’t be the first to chuckle at my naivete.
Then I met John. Happy to finally have a female in his life who would permit him to blather on about soccer like an excited professor, he wasted no time painting a picture of a team that was, at minimum… shall we say, heckle-worthy? This was during my elementary calcio education, when John was still drilling me on the basics… I can’t recall if it was the lesson before or after I learned the vocab words “ultras,” “Drughi,” and naturally, “disgraziato” (proper Italian grammar is not high on the priority list when his blood gets pumping during a match).
Simultaneously began my Juventification and the discovery that my two favorite Italian players, Gianluigi Buffon and Mauro Camoranesi, each donned black and white. I’ve watched hundreds of games since then, bid adieu to my Mauro and welcomed my Matri (each who I liked for very different reasons), and learned quite a few more tid-bits along the way (though I’m still not sure why the clock sometimes counts the halves in two distinct 45 min increments and other times counts cummulatively all the way to 90), but a match against Lazio will always make me think of the beginning.
Rome makes me think of the beginning, too. And ancient Romans really dug one of my favorite foods, the artichoke, or at that time, carduus. It’s a tall thistle-like plant that originated in the Mediterranean region and grows wild in North Africa. What matters most to me is that you can stuff it, fry it, or eat it’s delectable little heart any number of ways. Though stuffed artichokes and spinach artichoke dip are regulars in my rotation, hearts in olive oil are a springy Italian staple and today they’re the star in a pasta dish. Artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, some sauteed onion or shallot, garlic, little vino blanco… madon’!! (Yup, another vocab word.)
And what’s to drink you ask? Cynar. A bitter, Italian, artichoke liqueur. Have it as a cocktail before dinner (with club soda and an orange slice) or after dinner as a digestif. This may be a bit unconventional and perhaps not the perfect pairing for those more discerning palates out there, so with your meal I recommend the slightly more predictable Pinot (Noir, that is). It was during the summer of 2001, while working at Sand Castle Winery, that I first began to cultivate my love of wine and when I discovered the amazing artichoke and Pinot combo. Cracking a bottle of Sand Castle Pinot Noir is perhaps just another fitting ode to the beginning.
Artichoke Heart and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta
Difficulty: Easier than Borriello, Price: $12-$15, Time: 25 minutes
1. Chop onion, artichoke hearts, and sun-dried tomatoes. Start cooking your pasta, following the instructions on the box.
2. Thinly slice garlic, a la Goodfellas. Since I prefer not to actually use a razor blade, I use this little wonder despite the lawsuits, the recall, the lacerated fingers, and the fact that when you search for it you’ll find images from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. I may not be razor blade hardcore, but I at least mean business about my garlic.
3. Sautee onions over medium heat in a splash of olive oil and 1 tbsp of butter. I like to salt (and lightly pepper) the onions at this stage, as I believe the salt helps to eek the delicious juices out of the onions. Cook until translucent.
4. Add garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. Sautee additional 2-3 minutes.
5. Deglaze pan with wine, scraping tasty bits off the bottom of the pan. Allow alcohol to cook off at med-high heat for additional 2 min.
6. Add chopped artichoke hearts and approx. 1 cup chicken stock. Allow mixture to simmer and reduce. Then add additional tablespoon of butter and splash of starchy pasta water (the water your pasta is cooking in) to help thicken and smooth the sauce. Add crushed red pepper to taste.
7. Pour mixture over 1lb of pasta of your preference and lightly toss. I opted for organic whole wheat linguini. Top with cheese of choice and CONSUME!
Back by popular demand, TeamEATS is a culinary guide to cooking and consuming the opposition. Each week, we pick a recipe from the home cuisine of Juve’s upcoming adversary, put on the kitchen apron and… cook it and eat it. Buon Appetito!