Roman Artichokes

If you happen to travel to Rome, you’ll notice that in many restaurants, the artichokes are always served with the stem straight upwards. This peculiarity surprised me the first time I saw it, but when I tasted and savored the softness, I realized that this was the best way to cook them. In fact, an artichoke cooked with the leaves in contact with the bottom of the pot and immersed in cooking liquid where the heart is practically steamed, is the ideal way to prepare this vegetable that is not often used in home cooking.

Artichokes must be carefully freed from any hard parts (see step) and you will sometimes find “hair” in the heart. Once they are cleaned, they should be placed in a bowl of cold water with lemon juice so they do not oxidize and turn brown. The artichoke is a tonic and digestive and it contains iron and helps to lower cholesterol.

The recipe that I propose contains little fat since the cooking is primarily done with water. The only fat comes towards the end of the cooking, when you add a little extra virgin olive oil.

ROMAN ARTICHOKES
Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 45 minutes
(Serves 4)

4 artichokes
1 clove of garlic
1 bunch of parsley
4 mint leaves (optional)
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

  • Wash the parsley and mint leaves and chop them.
  • Mix the breadcrumbs with the parmesan cheese, chopped herbs, and salt and pepper in a bowl.
  • Add cold water in a bowl with the juice of half a lemon.
  • Cut the stem of the artichoke about 5 inches from the cup.

  • Remove the outer leaves and tough parts. Remove the green part of the stem and the cup.

  • Using a spoon, scoop out the interior of the artichoke to remove any “hair” (white stringy filaments).

  • Soak it in the bowl with water and lemon. Repeat for each artichoke.
  • Gently open the leaves of the artichoke and spoon in the prepared mixture.

  • Place face down (with stems facing up) in a high-sided pot.

  • Pour in cold water, covering the leaves of the artichoke, leaving the cup and stem open. Add 1 clove of garlic. Cover the pot and cook over moderate heat for 45 minutes. Check with a fork, pricking the cup of the artichoke.
  • Toward the end of the cooking, pour olive oil over each artichoke and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Serve piping hot.

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