If I had to pick just one vegetable to eat daily, it would have to be artichokes. I could eat them every day for a year, and I doubt I would get tired of them. I even try to plan our trips to Italy around the artichoke season, because unfortunately, it is far too short. In Italy, I usually have several different varieties of artichokes to choose from, but in North America, unfortunately, it is often difficult to find good quality artichokes unless you live in California, apart from the few weeks around Easter. When buying artichokes, choose ones that feel both heavy and firm. The artichokes should have a healthy green color, compact center leaves, and an overall look of freshness. To store fresh artichokes at home, sprinkle them with a little water and refrigerate in an airtight plastic bag. Do not wash before storing. They should last a week when stored properly. If you are unfamiliar with cleaning artichokes, it really isn’t difficult. You might find my post How To Clean An Artichoke helpful. These fried artichokes can be served as an appetizer which is how I usually serve them, or as a vegetable side dish for meat, poultry, or seafood.
Although there is an unlimited number of ways to prepare artichokes, I usually like to simply braise them in olive oil and white wine, or to fry them quickly. I have tried many different batter recipes for frying artichokes, but when I came across an easy recipe from Judy Witts Francini (Divina Cucina), a friend, cooking teacher, and leader of food tours across Italy, I knew that I had to try it. You simply cut the cleaned artichokes into pieces, mix them with beaten egg, then stir in flour and salt to create a light batter. Once fried, the chokes have a light, crisp, golden brown crust. I loved the artichokes prepared this way, and plan to use this recipe often when the family is requesting fried artichokes.
The artichoke is actually a perennial plant in the thistle group of the sunflower family and is believed to be a native of the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. In full growth, the plant spreads to cover an area about six feet in diameter and reaches a height of three to four feet. The “vegetable” that we eat is actually the plant’s flower bud. If allowed to flower, the blossoms can measure up to seven inches in diameter and are a beautiful violet-blue color. There are more than 140 artichoke varieties, but less than 40 are grown commercially. Today most artichokes grown worldwide are cultivated in France, Italy, and Spain, while California provides nearly 100 percent of the United States crop. We are lucky living in Umbria, because the climate is optimal for growing artichokes so we have a number of plants in our garden.
Artichokes From My Garden
Artichokes In An Italian Market
Deborah Mele 2019
- 6-8 Small Artichokes, Trimmed & Cut Into Quarters
- 1/2 Lemon
- 1 Extra Large Egg, Beaten
- 1/4 to 1/2 Cup All-purpose Flour
- Sea Salt
- Vegetable Oil For Frying
- Clean the artichokes as instructed in my How To Clean Artichoke post.
- Place the trimmed artichokes into a bowl with the juice of half a lemon.
- Drain the artichokes and pat dry with paper towels.
- Place the chokes in a bowl with the egg and stir to coat.
- Stir in just enough flour along with a pinch of salt to create a batter that sticks to the chokes.
- Heat the oil to 375 degrees F. then fry the chokes until golden brown.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the chokes from the oil and place on a plate covered in paper towels to drain.
- Serve immediately seasoned with more salt.
Recipe from Divina Cucina's Tuscan Fried Artichokes
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 2 small
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 192Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 307mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 14gSugar: 3gProtein: 9g