Destinations Magazine

Roman Artichokes

By Patriciawinton @patriciawinton

By Patricia Winton
Roman ArtichokesAt this time of year, the giant purple Roman artichoke—known as cimiroli—comes into season. Two regional recipes, carciofi alla romana (Roman artichokes) and carciofi alla giudia (Jewish artichokes), vie for the dinner table. Either may join the Easter feast. The former, carciofi alla romana, requires less work. Both are delicious when well cooked.
I have to admit that I’ve never tackled the carciofi alla giudia (a fried artichoke) because it’s quite complicated. I've savored them at restaurants in the Roman ghetto, however, and they are quite wonderful. If you are interested, you can see a video (dubbed in English) that demonstrates the process.
To make both recipes, first you must clean the globes. (The video linked above gives a good demonstration of how to do this.) In Italy, artichokes are normally sold with a portion of the stem, which is edible. To clean, first prepare a bowl of water with the juice of a lemon along with the two lemon halves. Artichokes will darken your hands, so you may want to rub them with the lemon before you begin.
Roman ArtichokesThe first step is to snap off the tough outer leaves. Keep going until you begin to see green edges at the base of the remaining artichokes. Next, cut off the points by taking a sharp paring knife and begin making a horizontal cut midway between the base and tip. Turn the artichoke as you go, cutting deeper and deeper into the flesh until you reached the center. Next, use the knife to peel away the tough base of the leaves you removed earlier. Peel any stem remaining. Put the artichoke in the waiting water. Now choose a recipe, either the one below or the one in the video.
Carciofi alla Romana
4 globe artichokes (cleaned and put to soak in lemon water)2 clove of garlic, minced2 tablespoons chopped mint
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Mix together the garlic, mint, parsley, and enough of the olive oil to moisten the mixture. Mix well. (The usual mint used in this dish is mentucciaRoman mintbut you can substitute other mint if the mentuccia is not available.)
Remove the artichokes, shaking and blotting with paper towels to remove water.
Using your thumbs, stretch open each artichoke, making a little well in the center, and pull apart the leaves without breaking or separating them.
Fill each artichoke with some of the mixture, rubbing the exterior with the mixture as well. Place the artichoke in a large pot.
Pour the remaining oil over the artichokes and add enough water to come half-way up. Cover the artichokes with a large piece of crumpled parchment paper.
Cover the pan and bring to a simmer, cooking over a moderate flame for half an hour.
Pierce the artichokes with a fork to check if they are done. Continue cooking until they are tender, if necessary.
Serve the artichokes at room temperature.
Roman ArtichokesServes 4
Join me on alternate Thursdays at Novel Adventurers. Next week I blog about my first journey to Italy, a trip fraught with seemingly insurmountable hurdles.

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