Posts Tagged ‘artichokes’
QUICK! If you’re in the southern hemisphere get to the markets quickly before the spring ends and some crucial ingredients disappear. This dish is a classic Sicilian plate originating in the west of Sicily. Late in the artichoke season throughout Italy, you will find fave beans being sold right next to artichokes, so it’s inevitable that they will find themselves in some recipes together. The further south you make your way in Italy you will see an increasing abundance of both artichokes and fave beans. The dish photographed above is from Trattoria Piccolo Napoli in Palermo A Slowfood listed restaurant specialising in seafood with a generous offering of vegetable antipasti and side dishes.
You may know fave beans as broad beans where you come from. Once they are removed from their pods they need to have their skins removed. (This is not absolutely essential and certainly wasn’t done in the past when every little morsel counted.) The easiest way to remove the skin from each bean is to toss them into boiling water for half a minute. Remove and refresh under cold water. You will notice the skin wrinkle and lift off the bean, which then can be easily removed with a knife or your fingers. You can also make this with dried fave beans which will need soaking overnight. It’s not the same as the fresh experience but the flavour is unmistakable. It’s also ok to use frozen peas but remember to halve the weight indicated in this recipe.
Agnello Con i Carciofi
Alice and I sat a table at Trattoria Mario with red wine in our glasses, held high, toasting our last lunch at Mario’s…”for a while”.
We went to the cashier to pay our bill and after having already written a post on Mario, I remembered being told that I should make myself known the next time I was to visit.
I relayed my disappointment onto Fabio, at not having a chance to report on any artichokes coming out of their kitchen. He called out for his brother Romeo’s attention and asked “what can we make with artichokes for this guy?” A few tight Florentine phrases were exchanged between them and the response was “ Do you like lamb?
This is how much I liked the lamb.
“Come for lunch tomorrow, early. And we’ll make you the lamb with artichokes. It won’t be on the menu, we’ll make it just for you”
He made us an offer we couldn’t refuse.
Sagra del Carciofo Morellino, Riotorto May 1st and 2nd, 2010
Just outside the non-descript Tuscan town of Riotorto, in a public pine forest called La Pineta, is the biggest hoedown for artichokes on the Italian peninsula. At edition number 41 it is one of the oldest artichoke celebrations anywhere in the world. It will usually be held over a week and always reach critical mass on the weekend closest to the holiday May 1st. Riotorto produces it’s own variety of the Morellino artichoke, which is the most common of Tuscan artichokes.
Chiusure in Piazza in Primavera 24th – 25th April, 2010
How can such a tiny town put on such a big party? The roads leading into the Tuscan town of Chiusure MAP were lined with parked cars of springtime party goers, which made finding a spot to park, a little adventure and finished with a nice walk into town amongst olive groves. Over a weekend in late April the town, of only seven hundred inhabitants, holds an annual springtime festival called Chiusure in Piazza in Primavera (Chiusure in the Square in Spring) and it really is a great get together. It was the first time we had seen an actual groovy affair attended by lots of down to earth, young, mature hipsters and not dominated by families trying to find a way to keep their children entertained.
The White Artichoke of Pertosa
Who said old-fashioned hospitality was dead? In Pertosa Alice and I were treated to a day of the most enthusiastic generosity you could imagine. We were greeted by the young and energetic Giuseppe Lupo who, among many things, acts as the local councilor for agriculture in his hometown.
Sagra di Carciofi Sezze, 18th April, 2010
Just under an hour by train south of Rome, Sezze (MAP) is a solitary hilltop town set on the highest point of a ridge surrounded by fertile plains which are home to a vast number of artichoke fields. Nestled in amongst the modern town is the historic centre with its long, narrow and tangled streets. It’s a typical or rather stereotypical old Italian town with cobble stoned paving, stone buildings and old, grey haired ladies peering out through doorways at all the curious visitors roaming the streets on days like this one when it hosts the Sagra of the local Artichoke.
This sagra was held on Sunday, 18th of April on the same weekend as the festival in Ladispoli. If you have to choose between the two, I would absolutely recommend this one as it was all about the artichoke and nothing else. On the day the streets are lined with stalls selling cute little handy crafts or artisanal foods like salami and cheeses. Some stalls promote and sell the local artichoke called carciofo setina or, as the locals say, carciofolo sezzese.
Pasqua = Easter or Passover. The name of this torta embodies the time of year when you’ll generally find it. I’ve honestly never seen one on a menu but it’s one of those dishes that you hear more about people making in the home.
They don’t come much more traditional than this one but whenever you ask around about traditional dishes you can expect some contention. This dish is typically made with leafy greens and not artichokes therefore many people think that the real Torta Pasqualina does not include artichokes. On the other hand there is another camp that believes that the original recipes calls for artichokes but they were replaced in an age when they were beyond the affordability of most people so the recipe changed to include a cheaper vegetable.
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.
Caponata di Carciofi
Mention the word Caponata and I think most Italians will begin to salivate.
Firstly, the name immediately evokes a sense the south and Sicily in particular. Caponata is traditionally a large combination of ingredients tossed together and the most traditional of all is the Caponata di Melanzane, or Aubergine Caponata, Eggplant Caponata. But Sicilians certainly boast some of the best artichokes and most interesting artichoke dishes in Italy and they can easily replace the aubergine with the addition of tomato, onion, olives and capers, to make the artichoke equivalent of the traditional Caponata.
Lasagne ai Carciofi
Making pasta is something that I took for granted as a child. In fact I almost found it a chore to help my mother as she rolled the pasta through the machine, sheet after sheet. It never seemed to stop because if you’re making pasta, you don’t just make some for one meal, but enough for a few dozen meals. And if you’re like my mum, you also make enough for the neighbours and to give to friends so the quantities were out of proportion for a young child.
I seem to remember it would always be on a Saturday afternoon that the table in the spare room would be cleared and dusted with flour. Wet cloths covered freshly kneaded pasta dough while it rested. I was called in to help when it came to the rolling, cutting and hanging. Broomsticks would be placed to rest horizontally between the table and chairs so the freshly cut pasta could be hung to dry. The one thing I do remember enjoying, apart from eating the pasta, was making my own pasta shapes from left over scraps of dough, a sort of maltalgliati.
Totani Ripieni ai Carciofi
The first time I heard about calamari with artichokes I thought it was a little strange. For me there didn’t seem to be a natural affinity between coastal food and this vegetable. Being predominantly surrounded by water and having artichokes growing in most of the country, this natural affinity is something I hadn’t seen until I went to the hilltop town of Perinaldo in Liguria.
This dish comes from Liguria and is the perfect light starter or by bumping up the portion size, could make a main meal. It goes well served with a fluffy, long grain rice. I played around with the styling of this dish for this post so you can choose whatever you feel appropriate.
Perinaldo boasts one of the only two Slowfood listed species of artichokes in Italy and most of the town has sea views so it makes sense that they have a traditional dish with seafood and artichokes. I will post some photos and write a little more about Perinaldo and the artichoke celebration/sagra I visited there, so stay tuned.
We start in Rome.
When in Roma, eat artichokes alla Romana or alla Giudea. You wont regret it.
Alice and I had a Chrismas holiday together with Alice’s brother, Chris. He’d never been to Italy before so we showed him around Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan and Turin. I never get tired of going back to these places. There is always more to explore and discover, especially on a culinary level.
For our first lunch we were directed to Da Tonino, (Via del governo vecchio, 18, 00186 – Roma (RM) Italia Cell.333 5870779 )MAP
A hole in the wall kind of establishment which served good, honest and generous portions of flavoursome food. In some respects, this first lunch of my holiday was the most memorable, even more than our Christmas lunch. I have simple tastes and I’m a total sucker for food without pretense. I do appreciate talented chefs experimenting with new fusion of flavours and skillfully presenting dishes, but the simple, the rustic, the humble and the down to earth gets me much more excited.
Bruschetta con Carciofi
Let’s get one thing straight. Firstly Bruscetta is pronounced, /brusketa/ and not, /brusheta/. I just had to clear that up. Bruschetta is simply toasted or roasted bread, with garlic, olive oil and salt. That’s it. When you start adding anything on top of that it becomes, Bruschetta with …
In this case I am posting two recipes for Bruschetta with artichokes. One is really easy and flexible which I think is pretty good and fuss free. The other is the very traditional Tuscan recipe. The first is completely dairy free, which I prefer, but the Tuscan one is great in it’s own way which I never refused to eat while I lived in Florence.
Foglie d’ulivo con carciofi – Olive leaf pasta with artichokes
This is the first dish I made this season. I invited a few people over before a movie and laid this dish out on the table to get the artichoke season rolling.
Foglie d ‘ulivo is simply a flat pasta in the shape of leaves from the olive tree. Any other flat, short pasta will be fine.
Here’s the recipe: