Le Cirque's Penne With Artichokes and Cauliflower

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“This pasta, from Sirio Maccione of the legendary Le Cirque, is so rich yet really so simple to prepare. It can be an appetizer or a side, but I actually think that with wine and bread and a salad, it's a perfect meal. Most of the work is prep-ing the artichokes--once they're done, it's a piece of cake (so to speak).”

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. To prepare the Artichokes:
  2. Cut of stems using a sharp knife to produce a neat, flat base.
  3. As artichokes are cut, rub exposed surfaces with lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
  4. With your sharp paring knife, trim off the bottom two layers of leaves, being careful not to cut away the white part (bottom) underneath.
  5. Trim any remaining green from around the base.
  6. Lay the artichoke on its side and cut through, leaving about 1 and 1/2" from base to the trimmed top.
  7. Turn the artichoke upside down and halve it.
  8. Cut each half into four or five wedges and then remove and discard the fuzzy choke from the center of each wedge.
  9. Your artichokes are now ready to be cooked, but if you are not going to cook them immediately, place them in a bowl and cover them with acidulated water (lemon juice and water).
  10. To make the Recipe:
  11. Place the trimmed artichokes into a small saucepan and cover with water and the juice from half a lemon.
  12. Bring to a boil, blanch for five minutes, drain and set aside.
  13. Place the pancetta in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil, drain and set aside.
  14. Place the cauliflower florets into a large saucepan, cover with salted water, bring to a boil, cook five minutes (or less if florets are small--check--they should be crisp tender), drain and set aside.
  15. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add the pancetta, and cook over medium heat for two minutes.
  16. Add the artichokes and saute briefly.
  17. Season with oregano and rosemary and cook five minutes.
  18. Add the garlic and tomatoes to the pan and cook two minutes.
  19. Add the olives, cauliflower and parsely and salt and pepper and cook five minutes.
  20. Meanwhile cook the penne in boiling salted water until al dente and drain, reserving 1 and 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid.
  21. Toss the pasta in the pan with the sauce, then add the cooking liquid and cook for two minutes.
  22. Taste the sauce, adjust the seasoning, add the butter and the cheese and stir gently till melted and serve.

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