Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Artichokes and Bottarga

Spaghetti alla Chitarra con Carciofi e Bottarga

Stepping back into the Ghetto of Rome for this recipe and back to La Taverna Del Ghetto where they have artichokes in some key signature dishes. This is a dish that you’ll find repeated in varying forms around the country from Sardegna to Liguria, Venezia, Puglia and Roma. The key ingredient is fish roe served with artichokes and some form of pasta. It is often found with the hand made pasta varieties of tagliolini or spaghetti alla chittara.

Ever thought of using a guitar to make spaghetti? That’s what you basically need to do when you make spaghetti alla chitarra. Firstly you need the chitarra, an instrument made of wood and strings strung up kind of like a small, two sided harp. A sheet of thin, freshly rolled pasta is layed onto the strings and pushed through using a rolling pin. One sheet of pasta pushed through will usually make one portion of spaghetti. Another simple way to roll similar pasta is to use a grooved rolling pin. These specialised rolling pins come with various groove widths and will make anything from spaghetti to tagliatelle or even pappardelle.

Bottarga is a cured and dehydrated mullet or tuna roe, which originates in Sardegna but is now is found throughout the country. You’ll need a fine grater, one that you would use for nutmeg or citrus skin, to be able to grate bottarga properly. Another common way to use it, in addition to grating, is to shave it finely with a very sharp knife or a vegetable peeler. If you are looking for some I would suggest a fine food providor only after asking a friendly fish monger. Have a look at this link to Hank Shaw’s post and find out more about bottarga and how to make it. Here is Fussy Duck’s words on it.

Ingredients (serves 4)

600g Fresh Spaghetti alla chitarra or tagliolini.

4 artichokes

4 tble spoons grated bottarga

1 tble spoon shaved bottarga

1 small glass of dry white wine

1 small handful of parsley

1 clove of garlic

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper


Firstly if you are not using fresh pasta and using packet spaghetti you can use about 350g for 4 portions.

Clean and prepare the artichokes. Cut thinly and place into lemon water.

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

Fry the peeled garlic in a frying pan with some olive oil on a low heat to let the garlic gain a golden colour. Then remove the garlic.

If you want to have more of a garlic presence you can chop it finely and heat it through in the frying pan with some olive oil being careful not to toast it.

Place the artichokes on to boil for five minutes. You do not want them to disfigure at all later in the cooking.

Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and place into the pan with the garlic-oil and allow to fry off for another five minutes.

Moisten with the white wine and allow to evaporate.

Now put the pasta on to boil ( reserving the boiling water for the artichokes will be fine)

Remove the pasta when it’s al dente and transfer it to the pan with the artichokes. (be sure to reserve some of the cooking water).

Add a small handful of finely chopped parsley, the bottarga, and toss it together so all the ingredients are nicely coating the pasta.

You may need to moisten it further with some of the reserved cooking water. This will give the pasta  a nice silky finish and is one of the top secrets to finishing a nice oil based pasta dish.

Serve it out into your pasta bowls and finish it off with another grating of bottarga straight over the pasta and also dust the plate edges.

Sprinkle some of the shaven bottarga on each portion and finally a little more chopped parsley.

A variation with riccioli and scallops.


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6 Responses to “Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Artichokes and Bottarga”

  1. mikey says:

    Thanks Maria,

    I’d love to see your book. We should be driving through L’aquila surrounds in a couple of months. Where are you now?

  2. Maria Filice says:

    Very nice combination! I also included pasta alla chittara in my book Breaking Bread in L’Aquila.
    warm wishes,

  3. mikey says:

    That’s too funny. I fear the electronics might be jammed with food crud over time but worth considering.

  4. mikey says:

    Let me know if you are going to make the botttarga from scratch. I’d love to know how it goes.

  5. Lucas says:

    hey mikey, i love the idea of pushing a sheet of pasta through a set of finely calibrated guitar strings. there’s a hybrid career for ya – mike up those strings, and you’ll be an experimental sound artist who serves food at the end of the gig! a delicious antidote to those alienating laptop nerds!

  6. Ilaria says:

    Lovely idea, I will try it this winter.

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