30 January 2011

Spaghetti with artichoke sauce and scampi

Trattoria Grappolo is, without a doubt, one of my favorite restaurants around here.  Located in the Santa Ynez Valley just a short drive from Santa Barbara, this Italian restaurant never fails to delight me--from the relaxed dining ambiance to the personal service to the absolutely delicious food.  Everyone I know enjoys their meals there, and my family is no exception.


So when I came across the restaurant's cookbook last December, I thought it would make a great Christmas present for the family.  I presented it to my mom, who since has enthusiastically pored over the gorgeous photos and inspiring recipes.  However, that pretty much sums up the extent of her use of this book.  So, I've decided to take things into my own hands and have some fun working through the recipes myself!  And in the process, I guess my parents are getting their Christmas Present: Part 2!


One of the first dishes that captured my eye was the spaghetti con carciofi and scampi (spaghetti with artichokes and shrimp, currently available on their lunch menu).  The picture of thick strands of spaghetti coated in a creamy artichoke sauce got me drooling, and my mind instantly conjured up some sort of artichoke-carbonara fusion dish.

So here is my personal take on the recipe.  I take help from canned artichoke hearts, but thawed frozen artichoke hearts would be another great alternative.  Of course, if you'd like to put in a little more work, fresh, steamed artichoke hearts (which I had as an appetizer) are absolutely lovely as well.  If you're looking for a richer sauce, add the egg--the hot pasta will cook the egg without scrambling it.  If you prefer a fresher, lighter taste, just skip the egg.  Either way, it is delicious!  Buon appetito tutti!

Spaghetti ai Carciofi con Scampi
Adapted from Trattoria Grappolo: Simple Recipes for Traditional Italian Cuisine
Makes 4 servings

1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts in water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs. fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, plus more for garnish
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese
1 egg (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb. thick spaghetti
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup dry white wine
Shavings of Parmigiano cheese, for garnish

Drain artichokes and reserve the liquid.  Add artichokes, garlic, parsley, grated Parmigiano, and egg (if using) to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth, adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the reserved artichoke water to create a smooth sauce.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling, salted water according to package directions until al dente.

While spaghetti is cooking, heat up a large skillet over medium heat.  When pan is hot, coat with olive oil and add the shrimp.  Let shrimp cook until pink on both sides, turning once during cooking.  Deglaze pan with wine and let wine reduce by half.  Remove pan from heat (important step, if you're using egg in the sauce--you don't want to end up with scrambled egg!), then add the cooked spaghetti and pour artichoke sauce over.  Stir to coat each strand.  If sauce is too thick, add some of the pasta water to loosen.

Mound spaghetti and scampi into bowls and sprinkle each serving with chopped fresh parsley and curls of shaved Parmigiano cheese.


The Church Cook said...

I can just taste in my mouth wonderful flavors of artichoke, shrimp, and touch of white wine! Looks wonderful,Erica!!

Anonymous said...

Hello... just visiting via Kay but I realized you're on TK, too. Anyway, this caught my eye b/c of the gorgeous artichoke photo. I've been reading a book about healthiest foods, artichoke being one of them. Anyway, I'm going to start cooking with these "healthy" ingredients in mind. But when I read the recipe, it calls for canned. Do you think it can be made using fresh? I'm not very familiar with fresh artichokes... our family usually steams them and eats them dipped in vinegar... very Italian I guess. Sorry for the super long comment!

erica said...

hi sosopie! nice to meet you! yes, you can DEFINITELY use fresh artichokes...they are absolutely delicious! i just used canned ones here because i like to make cooking easy on everybody. :)

if you use fresh artichokes, look for artichokes that have nice big stems. leave artichokes whole or cut in half if very large, and steam in some water with a little vinegar and a bay leaf and a clove of crush garlic until stems are fork-tender. for this recipe, use the artichoke hearts and stems (peeled). you will want to have about 1 1/2 cups of artichoke chunks (a few tender leaves is okay too) to work with, and save some of the cooking water in case you need to thin out the sauce a little bit.

i LOVE that you dip the steamed leaves in vinegar! i too think it's so tasty...what kind do you use? i've really enjoyed dipping in balsamic vinegar (much more than the classic drawn butter). :)

Anonymous said...

Um... I think I'll start with canned, first. I thought I could cut out the hearts and use it as is... Naive! I don't know if dipping in vinegar is a Sicilian thing, but that's what we do. My husband offered the butter once, but we were all like blech. We usu red wind vinegar with a splash fo balsalmic for a bit of a pop. I'm putting this on my weekly menu for next week so I'll report back to ya about my results!

Anonymous said...

I made this Monday for Valentines and it was really good. But as I was writing up the recipe, I realized that I forgot the cheese! Obviously I didn't miss it, but I'll have to make this again soon so I can see how it taste made properly. Thanks!

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