Fresh produce is very important to me and I am fortunate to live in an apartment block very close to the Queen Victoria Market and good, fresh produce is not hard to get.
Pre-lockdown restrictions, I also shopped at various Farmers’ Markets, but this option is not available for me at the moment.
These artichokes were bought last weekend at the QVM and I was surprised by their very green colour. This variety of artichokes are local and are in season; they are different in appearance to the three other varieties I am familiar with available earlier in the season.
During the week I bought these baby artichokes. These babies are from the artichoke plant when it has reached the end of its season. The plant does not have the energy to produce the full type variety and produces these little offshoots. Usually they are used for pickling. Notice that this variety is tinged with purple, unlike the bright green variety of artichokes in the photo above.
You may ask what is the bunch of greens next to the baby artichokes? Cima di rapa (or cime di rape, plural). These are at the end of the season and I was surprised to find them in such good form.
This is what I did with the big artichokes:
Stuffed with fresh breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan, garlic, parsley and extra virgin olive oil and braised in white wine, stock and extra virgin olive oil and with potatoes. I often use potatoes to hold the artichokes upright in a pan; the liquid should reach below the top of each artichoke. The potatoes are delicious as they soak up the flavours of the artichoke braising liquid.
Artichokes that are stuffed should fit tightly in a pan and in this case I have used the stems to keep the artichokes secure:
Or with potatoes once again used to keep the artichokes propped up:
And what did I do with the baby artichokes?
I braised them once again in stock, white wine and extra virgin olive oil and once cooked I used the braising liquid from the cooked artichokes in the risotto.
For the risotto:
Sauté garlic and onion in extra virgin olive oil. Add the rice and toss around in the pan till well coated. Drain the stock (braising liquid from the artichokes) from the artichokes and add it warmed -gradually and intermittently as you would for making any risotto.
Add parsley about half way through cooking. Add the artichokes and a lump of butter at the final stages and when the final absorption of stock is occurring. Do not forget, that a risotto should not be dry… present it all’onda…meaning that the finished product should ripple like waves.
Present it with grated Parmesan, if you like.
Sometimes I prefer to taste the natural flavours of the dish and grated cheese can be overpowering.
Carciofi are artichokes in Italian.
Carciofini are baby artichokes.
Recipes on my blog for artichokes are many and here are just a few:
CARCIOFINI SOTT’ OLIO (Preserved artichokes in oil)
There are also recipes on my blog for Cime di Rapa.