Friday, May 9, 2014

Artichokes, Get them Before They're Gone (with recipe!)

"Expose them {your kids} to the widest variety of vegetables and fruits, showing them how good things can be in season.  Tasteless fruits and vegetables won't win them over for life."  Mireille Guiliano

Artichokes are in season right now, and the price has dropped significantly since I first spotted them at the supermarkets.  In Rome you normally see them showcased at the Jewish Ghetto served as their famous Carciofi alla Giudia (Artichoke Jewish Style), but now they are all around town.  As a kid I ate them boiled.  It was a fun and messy appetizer, eating the tip of every leave dipped in an olive oil, lemon juice and salt dressing, but the best, the most fun part was arriving to the heart.  

Now, I have tried more sophisticated ways of cooking and serving them to visiting friends, but once in a while I go back to the simple way, for nostalgic reasons.

Yesterday I saw them, staring at me at the supermarket and I decided to try a new recipe.  Here is what I did:

  • Fill a bowl with water and add a squirt of lime juice.  Set aside.
  • Discard all the thick outer leaves of the artichoke by folding them back (which makes them crack at the bottom leaving the edible part still attached) and pulling.  Once you arrive to the tender more reddish leaves at the center stop ripping them off and just cut the top 1/2 inch. **
  • Slice them in half and discard the fuzzy part right at the center of the artichoke.  Peel outer part of stem (see video here).
  • Chop them in bite-size pieces and drop them in the bowl with water. This will prevent oxidation.  
  • Once you've cleaned all your artichokes cook them in a pan with olive oil, add half an onion (chopped small) and one garlic clove (which you can leave whole and then remove or chop small).  After five minutes add half a cup of white wine and cover until they are soft.
  • Make a béchamel sauce with added parmesan cheese to taste. 
  • Line a pie dish with phyllo dough (sfoglia).  Add a bit of béchamel, then the artichokes, cooked chicken in bite size pieces, more béchamel and then cover with another sheet to phyllo dough.
  • Bake for 35 minutes in a 400ºF oven (200º C). 

Do you have a good artichoke recipe?  Would love to learn some new ways of eating this great veggie.  Buon Appetito!! 

** TIP: When cleaning the Artichokes use plastic gloves.  For some reason they will dirt your fingernails and you'll look like a kid who has been playing with dirt all day.  That was me yesterday :(  I'm wearing gloves next time...

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