We just returned to Umbria this week, and although I do love everything about being back in Umbria, one of the things I was looking forward to most upon our return was our weekly market visits so I could buy my favorite vegetable, the artichoke. The artichoke season is far too short, but this is the first year that we have come back early enough to catch the beginning of the season, so I plan on buying lots of artichokes and preparing them in a variety of ways over the upcoming weeks.
The day after we arrived back in Umbria we headed off to the Wednesday market in Bastardo where I bought a bag full of fresh artichokes along with some other fresh veggies. Our favorite market stall owner named Fred, warned us that the artichokes may not be as plentiful this year as southern Italy had a bad winter. I will keep my figers crossed however, and keep buying fresh artichokes as long as they are in season!
I could eat artichokes just about any way you could prepare them and thoroughly enjoy them, but my favorite way to prepare them is slow braised in white wine. I clean the artichokes, then cut them into quarters and brown them really well in some of our own olive oil which I find really brings out the flavor.
I then add garlic and white wine, cover with a lid and cook until tender. The wine evaporates and thickens as the chokes braise, lightly coating them almost in a sauce. All the chokes need before serving is some salt and pepper, and a toss in some chopped fresh mint or parsley, though I’d never say no to an extra drizzle of really good olive oil.
You really need to brown the chokes to a golden brown in this recipe to get the best flavor. I honestly could eat these every day and not tire of them, and this is Italian cooking as simple as it can be. Use just a few fresh ingredients, and cook them just to enhance the natural flavors. You may not be able to brown the chokes in one batch, so divide them into two to get them nice and brown, then put them all back into the skillet or pot to braise.
If you are not sure about cleaning fresh artichokes, and I do realize they can look intimidating until you’ve done it yourself for the first time, I posted How To Clean An Artichoke Step by Step a while back that you may find useful. I prefer almost all my vegetables served at room temperature as I feel the flavor is really enhanced, but the choice is up to you to serve them hot right out of the pan or not.
Artichokes Growing In Our Garden
My Market Bounty Including Globe Artichokes From Puglia!
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 8 to 10 Medium Artichokes, Cleaned & Cut In Half
- 4 Garlic cloves, Peeled & Thinly Sliced
- 1 to 1 1/2 Cups Dry White Wine
- Juice of 1/2 Fresh Lemon
- Salt & Pepper to Taste
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Mint or Parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom skillet or wide bottomed pot, then brown the artichokes on all side over medium heat until golden brown, about 8 minutes, (Do this in two batches if needed)
- Add the garlic and mix with the artichokes and cook another minute or two until fragrant.
- Add a cup of the wine, lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until fork tender. If the wine evaporates too much, add the remaining half cup along with the lemon juice.
- Season the artichokes with salt and pepper, then toss with the fresh parsley or mint and serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 2 artichokes
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 356Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 260mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 17gSugar: 4gProtein: 9g