Carciofi aka. artichokes are upon us so what do you do? You eat them of course, loads of them!
Now, one can easily write a book on them but I will stick to a foolproof recipe. No dapping leaves in sauces or oil, this you can eat with fork and coltello.
First choose your carciofi, you can either go for a lot of small ones or a few big ones. The small ones normally are the small ones surrounding the big artichoke in the middle of a plant. Make sure your artichokes are dense, smooth and feel rather heavy for their size. Now I can tell you how to clean an artichoke but so many people have gone before me so go to youtube and pick an artichoke cleaning video if you don’t know how to clean them.
Basically you trim of all the hard outer leafs and the top and trim the stalk. Yes the stalk is very much edible. Now you can do two things with small ones here. Either cut them in half and slice them, leave them whole or anything in between. The big ones I like to leave whole. Chop up a good amount of parsley fairly fine, stalks as well and while you are at it mince some garlic cloves as well. If you wish you can replace part of the parsley with some fresh mint. For the small artichokes one proceeds with adding a good glug of olive oil to a pan, heat it and add garlic and herbs. Fry over low to medium heat for a few minutes, it shouldn’t brown. Churn up the heat add the artichokes and if you wish some wine and water. Word has it the artichokes should be almost covered in 50/50 oil and water but I use way less. Cover and slowly stew till done.
The big ones I fill with the same herb mix and are fit snugly with chopped up stalks in an oiled pan. Add some water/wine and braise slowly till done. Also these you can ‘drown’ in oil if you wish but consult your physician first. Some lemon or lemon juice may be added.
Artichokes cooked this way are called carciofi alla Romana but rest assured they eat them in Umbria in this way as well. Ideally you cover the artichokes with a cartouche which basically is a piece of parchment paper cut in such a way it tightly covers the ingredients in a pan. If you do the small artichokes it is a great starting point for a risotto.
If you can’t be bothered cooking them, eat them raw. Slice the artichokes very finely and douse with oil, salt and some pepper and lemon juice.