On our recent trip to Venice, we noticed that artichoke bottoms, or tondi di carciofi, were offered on many restaurant menus as a vegetable side dish or contorno. These bottoms were quite large, and sautéed or braised until very tender. We usually visit Venice in the spring or early summer when the tiny violetta artichokes, or purple artichokes are found, and these smaller artichokes are cooked whole. Upon visiting the always inspiring Venice market, I noticed that many stalls had crates of large artichokes imported from France, and the stall owners were trimming these chokes completely down to the bottoms which they then stored in acidulated water and sold.
I will admit that if I see artichokes on a restaurant menu, and I know they are fresh, I have to order them. When artichokes are in season, I also buy artichokes at our local markets a few times a week to cook at home. Here in Umbria, artichoke season has been over for months so I was very excited to be able to enjoy fresh artichokes once again. I ordered these tondi di carciofi a few times on our trip to Venice and decided I wanted to bring some home with me as well. On the morning we were leaving Venice, we made a stop at the market and bought a selection of fresh seafood, mixed seasonal mushrooms, and some of the artichoke bottoms which were sold as five for four euros. Artichokes will change color, turning an unattractive brown when exposed to air, so do keep them in acidulated water to retain their natural color.
Deborah Mele 2014
Venetian Braised Artichoke Bottoms
- 8 Large Artichoke Bottoms
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Juice from Half a Lemon
- 1 Garlic Clove
- 1 Cup Dry White Wine
- 1 Cup Water
- 3 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley
- Salt & Pepper to Taste
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and add the artichoke bottoms.
- Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned, then add the lemon juice, garlic, wine, and water.
- Reduce the heat to low, and cook until the choke bottoms are fork tender, about 10 minutes.
- Place the bottoms on a plate and season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon a couple of teaspoons of the cooking water over the choke bottoms, then sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve.