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.
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.
Thanks for stopping and having a look. This blog will be dedicated to my scoping out of artichoke recipes, artichoke festivals over this coming Winter & Spring 2009 / 2010 season here in Italy. I’m living in Turin, in the north west of Italy. This city boasts about a lot of things, among these is the claim that Turin has the largest outdoor fresh produce market in Europe called Porta Palazzo markets. They are quite enormous, but as the claim to fame is that they are the largest outdoor markets, I’m supposing that somewhere in Europe there is a larger and possibly more impressive indoor market. That aside, Porta Palazzo markets are a great place to shop and watch the seasons change over the 2 years I have lived here.
There is a covered section of the market dedicated to the local farmers. Here you’ll find the same faces showing up on most days to sell produce they picked earlier in the morning. They serve you with mud encrusted hands and, for some of the older folk, with hunched over postures. Unfortunately, there are no local farmers who bring artichokes to sell until very late in Spring(if at all), which means that until May I can only source artichokes from the main open air market. This main area is dedicated to produce from all over Italy, Europe and in some cases imported from Africa and South America. When I’m not out of Turin looking for artichokes and artichoke recipes, this is where I will buy artichokes for the following 5 to 6 months.
Now, Autumn is well under way and although farmers in some parts of the country have to wait til later in Spring 2010 to harvest from older plants, some other farmers, who planted earlier this year, will be collecting their first harvest around now. This means that from now til around the middle of May 2010, we should see artichokes on the market stalls.
Yesterday I went to do some shopping and got there way too late. All the sellers had packed up and the stalls were being packed down. As I walked through to see if I could buy a bargain from any remaining seller, I saw something that took my breath away. On the ground was a loads of left over artichoke debris, bit and pieces, leaves and stems. This was the sign that got me motivated to start this blog the next day. From now til May or June 2010, this vegetable will follow me everywhere and I will follow it.
The Artichoke Blog ©