Tag Archives: Artichokes

FRITTEDDA (A sauté of spring vegetables)

Frittedda is exclusively Sicilian and is a luscious combination of spring vegetables lightly sautéed and with minimum amount of stirring to preserve the textures and fresh, characteristic flavours of each ingredient — the sweetness of the peas, the slightly bitter taste of the artichokes and the delicate, nutty taste of broad beans. It is really a slightly cooked salad and each vegetable should be young and fresh.

In Sicily this dish is usually made at the beginning of spring (Primavera), around the feast day of San Giuseppe (19 March) when the first peas and broad beans come into season. It is thought that the origins of the dish are from around the northwestern part of Sicily (from Palermo to Trapani), but I have also found recipes from the agricultural areas in the centre of Sicily, in Caltanissetta, Enna and across to Agrigento and all have their own variations.

IMG_6024

Because frittedda is a celebration of spring, I also like to include asparagus, but this is not in traditional recipes. Use white or green asparagus, thick or thin. Yet again breaking with tradition I often add a little strong broth for extra flavour — Sicilians seldom add stock to food and rely on the natural flavours of the ingredients. They know that the sun always shines in Sicily and therefore, their produce tastes better.

img_3060-1

To fully appreciate the flavour of frittedda, I like to eat it at room temperature (like caponata) and as a separate course — as an antipasto with some good bread. The recipe also makes a good pasta sauce to celebrate spring.

DSC_0019

artichokes, about 3 young, tender
peas, 750g (250g, shelled weight)
broad beans, young, 1kg (these will result in about shelled 350g) The broad beans should be young and small — if they are not, (remove the outer peel of each bean)
asparagus (250g). Snap the bottoms from the asparagus and cut the spears into 2cm lengths
spring onions, 3-4, sliced thinly (including the green parts)
lemon, 1 for the acidulated water
extra virgin olive oil, about ½ cup
salt and pepper
white wine vinegar, ½ tablespoon or the juice of ½ lemon
sugar, about a teaspoon
fresh mint leaves, to sprinkle on top before serving

Prepare the artichokes – strip off the tough outer leaves. It is difficult to purchase young artichokes in Australia so you may need to remove quite a few of them.
Keep the artichokes in acidulated water (use juice of 1 lemon) as you clean them and until you are ready to use.
Cut each artichokes into quarters. Slice the artichokes into thin slices. I also use the stalk of the artichoke (stripped of its outer fibrous layer).

Select a wide pan with a heavy bottom and cook as follows:
Add some of the oil.
Add the artichokes and sauté them gently for about 5-7 minutes (tossing the pan, rather than stirring and trying not to disturb the ingredients too much).
Before proceeding to the next stage, taste the artichokes, and if they need more cooking sprinkle them with about ½ cup of water, cover the saucepan with a lid and stew gently for about 10 minutes. You will know when the artichokes are cooked as there will only be slight resistance when pricked with a fork.
Add more oil, the spring onions, the peas and broad beans, salt and pepper. Toss and shake the ingredients around gently to ensure that the vegetables do not stick. Cook for about 5-7 minutes. Add a dash of water (or stock).
Add the asparagus and cook for a few minutes longer.
Place the ingredients into a bowl or they will keep on cooking.
Add the white wine vinegar or the juice of ½ lemon – the small amount of vinegar or lemon juice provides a little acidity in contrast to the sweetness of the dish. You could also add a little sugar.
I sometimes add a little grated nutmeg – this accentuates the sweetness of the ingredients. Fresh mint leaves will accentuate the freshness but put them on top the frittedda when you are ready to serve it (mint leaves discolour easily).

Variations

The Palermitani (from Palermo) add the agro dolce sauce (sweet and sour sauce like when making caponata) made with caramelised sugar and vinegar at the end of cooking.

In Enna, in the centre of the island, wild fennel is added during cooking.

wild fennel_0011

 

 

 

ASPARAGUS and ARTICHOKES

It is Spring in Melbourne and artichokes (carciofi) and asparagus (asparagi) season.

We do not see the numerous artichokes in large bunches with long stems that one sees all over Sicily but artichokes in the larger Australian cities have become more common and I have even seen some in supermarkets, but not necessarily fresh and crisp as they should be.

Artichokes in Siracusa Sicily

Last year I was able to buy artichokes from a grower in Werribee – not far from Melbourne.

Artichokes in Werribee Victoria

Asparagus are everywhere in Melbourne (other places in Australia as well). Mostly they are the thin variety of asparagus sold in bunches but in the last few years the thick asparagus sold by weight are easily found. Those of you who eat out or read recipes may have noticed that more and more vegetables are presented char grilled (rather than steamed) and the large asparagus are perfect for this.

In Australia (or at least in Melbourne) we have not yet reached the wild asparagus trend (photos above and below). Wild asparagus are appreciated all over Italy.

I  quite often cook asparagus and artichokes together. I have a friend who eats gluten free food so I stuffed these artichokes with almond meal, parsley, garlic and one egg (make a stiff paste). I braised the artichokes in stock and white wine and because I did not have the correct sized saucepan (I am not living in my apartment at the moment) I had to use a large saucepan.

IMG_7322

No problems – I used whole potatoes to support the artichokes in an upright position. I then added asparagus a few minutes before I was ready to present the artichokes.

IMG_7324I have written many recipes for artichokes on my blog… Use the search button and type in ‘artichokes’ if you wish to find how to clean artichokes and recipes.

IMG_0007

Stripped of their tough outer leaves artichokes are perfect for eating with just a fork and a knife. The artichokes in this photo were cooked by a friend and she braised them with beans (pulses).

 

A QUICK PASTA DISH for Spring: asparagus, artichokes, peas

The pictures tell the story.

IMG_2275-800x598

I use good quality pasta and sometimes interesting shapes. Croxetti (also called corzetti or curzetti) is a traditional type of pasta from Liguria; they are in the shape of flat medallions and usually stamped with a decorative design.

IMG_2277-800x598

Use this  sauce made with Spring vegetables as a dressing for the cooked pasta.

 

Artichokes:strip them of their outer, tough leaves and cut vertically straight down the middle and into thin slices; each half of the artichoke can be cut into eight pieces or more. Rub the artichoke slices with a cut lemon as you work to stop it discolouring.

IMG_2324

Strip the fibrous covering off the artichoke stalks and slice  the remaining centre of the stalk into thin slices. To do this, cut off the very end of the stem and then strip the  covering or use a paring knife to cut off the covering – expect the covering to be thick.

IMG_2279-800x598

Asparagus are prolific in Spring. Once the tough bottom end of each asparagus is snapped off and discarded, slice the remaining stalks thinly as they will need more cooking than the top end of the asparagus.

artichokes-cut-blog-DSC_0232

Sauté the sliced artichokes and stalks in extra virgin olive oil. Add 1/2 cup of white wine and a little stock and seasoning.  Cover with a lid and braise until softened. Remove from the pan and set aside.

IMG_2278-800x598

Spring onions are always handy to add flavour and a few peas or broadbeans are excellent in Spring.

Sauté  the spring onions (sliced) in some extra virgin olive oil, add the asparagus and peas (or broadbeans) and a little salt and pepper. I also add  about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Toss them around in the hot pan until softened (I like to keep the vegetables a little firm). You may wish to sauté these vegetables in two stages – overcrowding the pan is not a good idea.
Return the artichokes to the pan and heat through. Add a dollop of butter, a little grated nutmeg, some chopped parsley or some basil leaves .

IMG_3467
Dress the cooked pasta with the vegetable sauce. If you wish,cut off the very end of the stem, and peel the tough outside layer of the stem with a vegetable peeler. present it with a dollop of ricotta or grated Parmisan cheese.

As a variation,  and if fennel is still in season,I sometimes add  sauteed  thinly sliced fennel to this dish.

Artichokes are called Carciofi in Italian and there are several recipes on my blog  Key in “carciofi” in search button.

ARTICHOKES from the growers

I collected 30 fresh artichokes from a grower in Werribee ….freshly picked.

DSCF3015

To my kitchen bench….

photo-11-800x800

Into a container…

IMG_0766

To Waratah Hills Vineyard Tasting Room for a culinary event on Saturday 20th September 2014

I am so looking forward to it.

For recipes, use the search button on the blog and key in “artichokes”

Marisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

GLOBE ARTICHOKES AND JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES

Artichokes on cooktop 2

Gluten intolerance – myth or misunderstood?

Saturday, The Age, June 28, 2014

Andrew Masterson

For complete article, see link at the bottom of this post.

This is a very interesting article about gluten being the possible cause of intestinal problems (celiac disease) and the relationship of intestinal problems and FODMAP (The acronym stands for “fermentable oligo-saccharides, disaccharides, mono-saccharides and polyols).

If I eat artichokes, I get cramp and wind’.

But, what type of artichokes?

There are two types of artichokes, the leafy Globe artichokes and the tuber Jerusalem artichokes. Globe artichokes have NO relation of the tuber-like, Jerusalem artichoke.

In my experience problem “artichokes” are more than often he tuber variety, the Jerusalem artichoke.

In many other cultures when one mentions “artichoke”, Globe artichoke is the one that they think of. The Globe artichoke is considered to be the ‘true’ artichoke – one of a large member of the thistle family. Globe artichokes are beneficial – liver, kidneys.

DSCF3015

The tuber artichoke contains a surprising lack of starch, but is rich in the carbohydrate (76% inulin), which is a polymer of the monosaccharide fructose. Also if they are stored for a length of time they convert their inulin into its component fructose and this is the possible offending factor.  T

The Jerusalem artichoke grow as tubers  of tall, herbaceous perennial  plant that grows up to 3 m high with a yellow flower like a sunflower and this is why the tubers are also referred to as a sun-choke. In Italy the tubers are called Girasole- sunfllower because of  the plant’s resemblance to sunflowers.

IMG_4330

As a person who appreciates and offers stuffed Globe artichokes to many friends during the artichoke season, I want them to know that they are not likely going to suffer.

REFERENCES

Low FODMAP Food: www.StephanieClairmont.com

Gluten intolerance – myth or misunderstood?

Recipes for stuffed artichokes on All Things Sicilian and More:

IMG_0839

 

QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET (Carmel and Gus’s stall in B Shed, Stall 61- 63)

I buy freshly picked vegetables and fruit that are in season – it is more likely to equate to optimum flavour and nutrition.DSC_5457

Many cooks are not familiar with particular vegetables or do not know how to cook them. For example: artichokes, chicory, fennel, cavolo nero, cime di rape, prickly pears, broad beans, cardoons, endives, kale (to name a few) would be classed as unusual vegetables to some shoppers.

Gus and Carmel's stall @ Vic Market

But I can buy all of these ingredients from Carmel and Gus’s stall at the Queen Victoria Market (B Shed, Stall 61- 63).

On my blog you will find many photos of produce from their stall and recipes on how to cook them. This season the cavolo broccoli have been interesting to try .

cimeblogcrop_

I have again much enjoyed the artichokes and the cime di rape (see photo below). Most of the time, I stuff my artichokes with breadcrumbs, parsley, grated pecorino (if cooking Sicilian), garlic and I moisten the stuffing with extra virgin olive oil.

Carciofi hero

I braise them in broth and white wine. Great stuff.

carciofi cooking

SICILIAN CONTORNI IN SPRING ( A Sicilian potato salad, artichoke salad, braised peppers)

Lidia is one of my cousins who lives in Augusta (south of Catania in Sicily) and is an excellent cook. Lidia has taught me many things about Sicilian cooking.

She is an innovative cook and like any good cook she improvises and uses basic Sicilian traditional methods and recipes and embellishes them with new ingredients. Balsamic vinegar is not a Sicilian ingredient but, like many ingredients from the North of Italy, it has found its way into modern Sicilian cooking. I cannot see the elderly members of my family using it, as their cooking remains very traditional. Please note that it is a good quality balsamic and not some of the inferior ones that are commonly sold in supermarkets in Australia (and probably elsewhere). Naturally the extra virgin olive oil is of excellent quality also.

We had lunch at Lidia’s country house recently and these were just the contorni (side dishes):

The small peppers were first sealed in hot extra virgin olive oil and then cooked on low heat with a little salt until soft.  A little balsamic vinegar was added at the end to deglaze the pan.

The waxy potatoes were peeled and cubed and cooked on low heat with whole young fresh onions in a little salted water. When soft, the water was drained and the vegetables were dressed with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and oregano.

The artichokes had most of the leaves removes and were boiled. These were dressed with extra virgin olive oil, green squashed olives (not pickled for too long and therefore still slightly bitter tasting), mint, parsley and fresh garlic leaves from her garden, capers (those packed in salt of course) and a dash of good quality wine vinegar.

And all of this with a perfect blue sky, sitting outdoors and of course on an embroided linen tablecloth. Thank you Lidia and to Valentina her daughter who contributed to preparations and made a wonderful tiramisu using ricotta instead of mascarpone – a Sicilian touch.

MA2SBAE8REVW

CARCIOFI (Artichokes)

We are now well into autumn and the green artichokes have been in season for a few weeks now in Victoria (see photo above) and soon we will also have the purple tinged ones – all Victorian produce.

artichokes

Good news for carciofi lovers. They can be eaten in so many ways. Here are some of the ways that I have enjoyed eating artichokes:
• raw, as a salad, the centre of young, tender artichokes, sliced very thinly and dressed,
• thin slices of raw artichokes dipped in batter (or in egg and then breadcrumbs) and then fried,
• small ones preserved in oil,
• boiled and dressed in a salad,
• cooked and almost disintegrated in a pasta sauce,
• grilled over hot coals,
• as the principal ingredient of a caponata,
• in a frittata,
• an ingredient in a tart or pie,
• boiled and once cooked, leaf by leaf is dipped into a dressing (one’s teeth extracting the soft part found at the bottom of each leaf)
• stuffed in a variety of ways, then baked or braised.

There are many ways to eat artichokes, but when friends come they always ask me for stuffed artichokes. During artichoke season I seem to be stuffing artichokes very often . See recipe:

CARCIOFI IMBOTTITI (Stuffed artichokes)

Photo below: Photographer Graeme Gillies, food stylist Fiona Rigg. Both worked on my book, Sicilian Seafood Cooking.

My brother who lives in Adelaide uses egg and no cheese in his bread and herb stuffing so when I visit him I am pleased that they are a little bit different. Last time I ate artichokes at his house he added peas (which I often do) and we had the peas, stalks and juice as a pasta dressing and the stuffed artichoke as a second course.

I have written recipes about artichokes on this blog before. See:

CARCIOFI (Artichokes and how to clean them)

CANNULICCHI A LA FAVURITA – CANNOLICCHI ALLA FAVORITA (Pasta with braoadbeans, peas and artichokes alla favorita)

 

artichokesMelbourneblog-300x201

Cardoons will also be in season in winter.

CARDOONS (Cardoni or Cardi in Italian)

CARDOONS/CARDI continued

MA2SBAE8REVW

PASTA CON CARCIOFI (Pasta with artichoke sauce)

Shoppers seem to be more familiar and discerning when selecting what used to be referred to as a ‘challenging vegetable’, and this could be contributing to the good quality of artichokes on sale.

As we are heading into spring (in Australia), artichokes are becoming more plentiful. Lately I have seen and purchased some very good artichokes at the Queen Victoria Market. I do like whole, stuffed, braised artichokes, however sliced artichokes can be sautéed and used to make a frittata, risotto or a pasta sauce.

 

The following is a standard pasta sauce made in most parts of Italy. Most regions use a few tomatoes (tinned at this time of year). I actually prefer the sauce without them and use extra wine for the extra moisture which may be required to soften the artichokes. Butter is added at the end to sweeten and bring together the flavours, but is generally not used in some regions of Italy (mainly in the south).

INGREDIENTS

fettuccine all’uovo, 500 g (egg pasta)
tomatoes, 300g peeled and sliced (canned are OK at this time of year)
butter, 3 tablespoons
extra virgin olive oil, ½- ¾ cup
artichokes, 3-4, young and fresh
garlic, to taste
salt and coarsely-ground black pepper, to taste
white wine, 1 cup
fresh parsley, ½ cup
grated parmesan cheese, to taste

PROCESSES

Prepare artichokes: strip off outer leaves until you have leaves that are lighter in colour and less fibrous.
Cut the artichokes into quarters and then into slices. Trim the stalk of their fibrous outer cover and slice. Keep the artichokes in acidulated water (lemon juice) to prevent from discolouring.
Heat the olive oil in a large shallow pan, add the well drained artichokes and sauté for approximately 3-4 minutes.
Add white wine and evaporate for a few minutes.
Add tomatoes, garlic, seasoning and parsley; taste the artichokes and decide if they need more cooking, cover and simmer till cooked (if the artichokes are tender it may only be 5-10 minutes). Add extra wine or stock if necessary.
Dress the pasta with the sauce. Add butter at this stage.
Place parmesan cheese on the table (or use pecorino if you wish it to be a southern Italian) .
For other artichokes recipes and how to clean them, hit this link.

 

CARCIOFINI SOTT’ OLIO (Preserved artichokes in oil)

If you live in the Southern hemisphere (as I do in Melbourne, Australia,) you may have noticed small artichokes for sale. Carciofi  is the word for the normal sized artichokes and carciofini are the small ones. Carciofini are also the baby artichokes that never develop to full size and grow at the end of the plant’s growing season (photo of carciofi spinosi taken at Palermo Market)

These small artichokes (that never develop to full size) are considered too small to cook and are customarily preserved in oil and eaten in the non-artichoke season. I realize that this may be difficult for some of us to imagine because we appear to be able to purchase artichokes, asparagus and tomatoes all year round in Australia, but being Italian and having been brought up with respecting and celebrating local, seasonal produce, I go without. (I ask myself how far away some of this produce is coming from and how long ago was it picked.)

The carciofini are first poached and then preserved under oil. Usually I only preserve very small quantities (they get eaten very quickly), but for each kilo of artichokes,

INGREDIENTS
small  artichokes, 1 kilo
acidulated water – 2 lemons
For the poaching liquid
I use 4 cups of white wine vinegar, a cup of white wine and about one teaspoon of salt for the poaching liquid. They need to poach in sufficient liquid otherwise the bitter taste becomes concentrated and they could be unpleasant.
For the oil mixture:
Sufficient extra virgin oil to cover the artichokes and
1 tablespoon of whole black pepper corns, 5 bay leaves and about a tablespoon of dry oregano.
PROCESSES
Use artichokes that look closed and firm (when the leaves start to open, the choke has started to develop and this can happen even to small artichokes if they have been left on the plant too long).
Strip back the leaves (you just want the tender heart) and kept them whole. Soak them in the water and lemon to stop them from browning.
Drain the artichokes and leave them upside down while you make up the vinegar/wine mixture. Use a stainless steel saucepan with a lid (to cover the artichokes as they cook).
Place the artichokes in the boiling mixture, cover and poach them gently in the mixture until cooked but not soft – still firm in the centre, but the outer leaves should have softened. The time for cooking varies (my last batch took 12 minutes).
Drain them of as much vinegar as possible and when cool pack them carefully into sterilised glass jars, pressing them down gently and trying to prevent as many gaps as possible. (Rather than a large jar I use smaller sized jars so as to minimise possible spoilage once opened).
Add flavours and cover with oil. To allow any trapped air to escape leave them for about 3 hours before sealing. During the resting time the level of the oil may be reduced, top with more oil and ensure they are well covered (some use an inverted small saucer on top as a weight to help keep the artichokes submerged but make sure that you sterilise the saucer).
Seal the jars and allow them to steep in the oil for at least 10 days before you eat them. Because I make small quantities and live in an apartment with little storage space, I keep them in my fridge, but they can be stored in a cool, dark place for about 6 months.

 

I never add fresh herbs or garlic to any preserves, as these are likely to go off, release gas and spoil the whole preserve.

When ready to use, remove the quantity of artichokes from the jar, drain them of some of the oil, add garlic slices and finely chopped parsley and a dash of lemon juice.

After each jar is opened, it is best to use the artichokes quickly. Add extra oil to the remaining artichokes to keep the contents submerged.I always keep opened jars in the fridge.