With this Babbo take on a classic Roman recipe, the artichoke’s supposed aphrodisiac qualities are enhanced with additions of chili flakes and fresh mint. Be certain to cook them just through, overcooking is a disaster.
12 baby artichokes, tough outer leaves trimmed and discarded, held in acidualted water*
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pinch chile flakes, to taste
½ cup white wine
½ bunch fresh mint, finely chopped, plus 4 leaves cut into chiffonade
1 small head cavolo nero (Tuscan kale), cut into chiffonade, about 2 cups total
4 slices fresh baguette, toasted
¼ cup freshly grated ricotta salata
*Water with a little lemon juice, which keeps the cut artichokes from oxidizing and turning brown.
Slice each of the artichokes in half lengthwise and return them to the acidulated water. In a 6-quart saucepan, place the ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, the drained artichokes, onion, garlic, chilies, wine, and mint. Place the pan over medium heat, cover tightly with foil, and cook 25 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat and allow to stand.
In a second pan, heat the remaining olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the cavolo nero and sauté until tender, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside.
Place the 6 artichoke halves on each of the two plates, so that they overlap slightly in the center, creating height in the middle of the plate. Sprinkle with the mint chiffonade. Top each toasted baguette slice with some of the sautéed cavolo nero and place one on top of each plate, where the artichokes overlap. Finish each plate with a sprinkle of ricotta salata.
Serve warm or at room temperature.