Saffron and Artichoke Pasta

You might feel like preparing fresh artichokes is more effort than it's worth, but after the first time it becomes a lot easier - mostly because you've found a shop that actually sells them.


For the pasta

250g dried Gigli pasta

1 tsp table salt

For the artichokes

200ml water

5 tbsp lemon juice

2 fresh artichokes

For the sauce

1 tbsp olive oil

2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

¼ tsp fennel seeds

Pinch of dried chilli flakes

Good pinch of saffron threads

50ml white wine

60g unsalted butter

1 roasted red pepper in brine, 1cm squares

1 egg yolk

A small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

For the toppings

Halen Môn sea salt with celery seeds

Vegetarian parmesan, grated (optional)


Prepare a bowl of lemon water for the artichokes by combining water and lemon juice in a medium sized bowl. Start preparing the artichokes by removing the outer leaves until you get to the tighter pale centre ones. Peel around the base of the artichoke to remove any hard outer parts then peel down the stem and cut the stem to about 5cm in length. Cut across the top of the artichoke then slice in half lengthways and with a small spoon remove the furry insides. Place each artichoke into the lemon water mixture to stop them going brown.

Boil a kettle of water for the artichokes and pasta.

Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a wide lidded frying pan on a medium heat and add the garlic, fry for 1-2 minutes then add the fennel seeds and chilli flakes and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the quartered artichokes, cook for 2-3 minutes then add 100ml of the boiled water and a good pinch of saffron threads. Stir well – you'll see the water turn a yellowy orange colour. Put the lid partially on and cook for 10 minutes or until the artichokes are soft. Stir during cooking.

Meanwhile, boil the pasta in salted water. Cook to packet instructions.

When the artichokes are almost soft, add the white wine and cook for a further 3 minutes or until the alcohol has evaporated.

When the pasta is al dente and the artichokes are soft, add the butter to the frying pan, wait until it's melted and add 2 ladles full of pasta water to the pan.

Drain the rest of the pasta, then add to the frying pan straight away. Turn off the heat. Add the roasted red pepper and egg yolk then stir well. You want to make sure the pan is not too hot as to not scramble the egg. Season a little with salt but plenty of pepper then add the finely chopped parsley. Stir well, then serve.

Serve with a sprinkle of celery salt on top and a little parmesan (optional).