The artichoke season in Italy begins in December, with the first produce arriving from Sicily, and the season ends in spring with the last artichokes coming from the country around Rome. The artichokes from the area around Rome are large and tender, and one variety in particular, called “cimaroli” (literally “those that grow on the top”) are the best ones. Large, globe-like, full of pulp, and with tender leaves, they are picked early, before they develop the unpleasant tough chokes inside.
Artichokes Roman Style generally are dressed with Mentuccia (Calamintha Officinalis), a type of mint with very small leaves that spontaneously grows in the Rome area. Difficult to find in the United States, this mint can be substituted with parsley instead.
Artichokes are good when served warm or lukewarm. If cold, let the artichokes come to room temperature. Avoid warming them for a second time, otherwise their taste will have an unpleasant tang.
1 large juicy lemon, cut in half
1 bunch of Italian parsley
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 glass of water
Clean the artichokes as indicated on my webpage
Chop the parsley and the garlic very finely and mix them together.
Rinse the artichokes in fresh water to remove the lemon flavor, drain well, shake away the excess water, and pat them with a cloth.
Rub the outsides and the insides with salt and pepper.
Insert the mix of parsley and garlic uniformly among the leaves.
Place the artichokes in a large saucepan with stems up and leaves down. Add the extra-virgin olive oil and the water.
Cover the pan, place paper towels between the pan and the lid, closing it as tightly as possible. Steam will form in the pan while the artichokes are cooking. The paper will prevent the steam from escaping and the artichokes will cook uniformly.
Turn the heat to medium and cook for about 20 – 30 minutes. Cooking time may vary, depending on the quality and size of the artichokes. After about 20 minutes test for readiness. When the artichokes are ready, you will be able to easily insert a fork in the thick part of the stem.
Uncover the pan and turn the heat to high. Fry artichokes for a few minutes, turning them carefully on all sides, until the outer and bottom leaves of the artichokes are brown. Serve warm with the cooking oil.