My partner who does the shopping came home with these artichokes from the Queen Victoria Market.

They were pretty big specimens and nearing the end of aritchoke growing season (when they turn woody and their fibrous chokes develop), but not having eaten artichokes for quite a while, I was excited about them.

They did prove to be quite fibrous – vecchi – Italians would say, but I did clean them as best I could, removing most of the outer leaves and really digging in to remove their chokes. I also cut more of the tops off than I usually do with younger artichokes.  Although the stems were long, once I stripped off the outer fibre, I was only able to use very little of them.

Really, I should have taken off all the leaves and used only the base – fondi – Italians call them.

Artichokes can be cooked in many ways and you will find several recipes on my blog, but I particularly like them stuffed. The stuffing was easy – day old breadcrumbs, garlic, grated pecorino, parsley and a good amount of extra virgin olive oil.

Last of all, I added some toasted pinenuts and some grated lemon peel to the stuffing.

And then I stuffed the artichokes.

These are ready to cook. They are nearly submeged in stock, white wine,  extra virgin olive oil and a little salt. I always add fresh bayleaves, but this time I also added thyme.

Cover and braise slowly.

And they did cook for much longer than I usually cook artichokes. After about 60 mins of cooking on a slow flame, I added chunks of potatoes and when the potatoes were nearly cooked (about 20 mins) , I added broadbeans and peas (Spring vegetables) and all cooked a further 10 – 15 minutes.

Like most Italians, I rarely do the cooking at the last minute. With braised dishes the flavours need to develop, and resting is a good thing. I cooked these in the afternoon, ready for the evening. This also gave me time to concentrate on accompanying food.

Where would we be without seasonal broadbeans!! My partner even double peeled them, something that I refuse to do.

In spite of all my fears, we chewed on the ends of the leaves and the bases (the fondi) just melted in our mouths…. They tasted pretty heavenly.

Some of these posts were written a long time ago!


CARCIOFI (Artichokes and how to clean them and prepare them for cooking)


CARCIOFI (Artichokes)

CARCIOFI FARCITI (Stuffed artichokes: with meat and with olives and anchovies)


There are more recipes for artichokes – use the search button.


My favourite Italian vegetable is the carciofo – artichoke. These have been eaten in Italy from ancient times and especially appreciated during the Roman period. They were then grown extensively in Sicily and Naples particularly around the 9th century.


Italians still love artichokes; they stuff them, boil, braise them, roast them in ashes, fry them and preserve them with the help of olive oil. They are used to make risotti, pasta sauces, frittate. Older artichokes are stripped of all their leaves and the tender ‘fondo’- base – is stuffed and braised or baked. Tender raw artichokes are sliced thinly and eaten raw as a salad with a dressing and in Sicily made into a caponata. Older artichokes are stripped of all their leaves and the tender ‘fondo’ (base) is stuffed and braised or baked. And the stem of artichokes, once stripped of its fibre is as appreciated.

One of my most favourite ways to eat artichokes is to stuff them with fresh breadcrumbs, grated cheese, garlic, parsley and then braise them in white wine and stock.

Carciofi heads

See recipe for Stuffed Artichokes

There are many regional and local variations for the breadcrumb stuffing all over Italy and probably the most common is the addition of anchovies. Different herbs or the addition of minced meat are also enjoyed in some regions. The stock can be water, vegetable or meat stock and /or white wine. Some also use tomatoes (peeled and chopped or blended tomatoes) as the braising liquid.


Ricotta is sometimes combined with fresh breadcrumbs and used for the stuffing and because nuts – pine nuts, almonds or pistachio – go well with ricotta I chose almond meal and some pistachios. Instead of parsley I added basil, a much sweeter herb, and finally nutmeg, a spice generally used with stuffings in the northern parts of Italy especially if ricotta or mince meat is used.

2 artichokes
100 g ricotta:
½ cup of basil
½ cup fresh white breadcrumbs
½ cup almond meal
¼ cup pistachio
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil, 2 will be used for the stuffing
salt and pepper and nutmeg
stock and a little white wine to braise the artichokes

Clean the artichokes, see: CARCIOFI (Artichokes and how to clean them and prepare them for cooking)

Trim the stalk with a small sharp knife to pull away the tough, stringy outer skin (just like the strings of celery). Keep the artichokes and the stem in acidulated water until ready to stuff.
Prepare the filling by mixing together in a bowl the breadcrumbs, seasoning, herbs, nutmeg, ricotta and 2 tbs of olive oil. 
Drain the artichokes, remove the outer leaves of the artichokes and cut off about 2 cms of the top.
Use your fingers to spread out the leaves, the stuffing will go mainly in the centre of the artichoke. There may or may not have a fuzzy choke, depending on the maturity of the plant. If there is, remove it with a teaspoon, carefully turning it without snapping the sides of the vegetable.
Sprinkle a little salt between the leaves.
Stuff the centre of the artichokes – I use my fingers, press the stuffing firmly into the centre.
Pour the rest of the olive oil in a pan. Place the artichokes into the pan standing upright so that it can cook in an upright position (so choose your pan carefully).
Add a combination of water, stock and white wine as the braising liquid (I used little wine and mainly vegetable stock). The level of the braising liquid should be about 1 cm below the top of the artichokes. Add a little salt to the braising liquid.
Cover and cook artichokes over low-medium heat for about 40 mins.

See other recipes for artichokes:

CARCIOFI (Artichokes)

CARCIOFINI SOTT’ OLIO (Preserved artichokes in oil)

PASTA ALLA FAVURITA (Pasta with artichokes, broadbeans, peas alla favorita)


CARCIOFI IMBOTTITI (Stuffed artichokes)

There are two words for carciofi in the Sicilian dialect, cacocciuli. and carcioffuli.
The Italian word for artichoke is carciofo and carciofi is the plural. And were would Italian cooking be without artichokes?

photo 2

My favourite way of cooking artichokes is the simple way that my mother has always cooked them. My maternal grandmother Maria (originally from Catania but who lived in Trieste for about 20 years) also cooked them this way. She used the same mixture to stuff sardines, tomatoes and artichokes. I researched Sicilian recipes for stuffed artichokes and found that they are all braised in the same way, but there are regional variations in the stuffing, for example in some parts of Sicily they add mint, others include eggs, some minced onion, or more cheese and even salame.

In Australia, although artichokes are now widely available, they are still thought of as exotic and possibly difficult to prepare. Exotic? Yes, maybe – for their unique taste and appearance, but once you know how to prepare them, they are simple to cook. You may need to tell your friends how to eat them (most will attempt to eat artichokes with a knife and fork).


Selecting good artichokes is important. Time and time again I have chosen not to buy artichokes as they have been picked too late (too mature). I suspect that some of the inexperienced growers may think that big is better, however this is not necessarily the case (some of the green coloured ones can be large but also tender). And as with all vegetables, I never select ones that are bruised, blemished or withered

Select and clean the artichokes carefully (as described in my previous post, Carciofi – artichokes and how to clean them). Cut the bases off flat so that they can stand up in a saucepan. Select the size of the saucepan carefully – you do not want them falling over, the artichokes should be close together. Do not forget to include the cleaned stems to add to the braise and keep the artichokes in acidulated water as you work.

Carciofi hero


I include one artichoke per person and each artichoke only needs 2-3 teaspoons of stuffing.

STUFFING: Combine the ingredients for the stuffing in a bowl. This ratio is good: 1 tablespoon of fresh breadcrumbs (made of good quality bread), 1 teaspoon of each – chopped parsley, extra virgin olive oil and grated cheese (you can use parmesan, but generally pecorino is traditionally Sicilian) and some chopped garlic to taste.

Drain the artichokes, spread the leaves (especially in the centre) and sprinkle salt and pepper in between the leaves. Push the stuffing mainly in the centre and if there is any left over, between the leaves. I use my fingers.

Arrange the artichokes standing upright in a pan, put the stems between them and drizzle well with more extra virgin olive oil. Add enough cold water to reach to about 1cm below the artichokes. Cook slowly with a lid for about an hour. Having lived in Trieste, I always add a splash of white wine and sometimes a little stock or a good quality vegetable stock cube to the poaching liquid.

If you are adding peas, broadbeans and/or potatoes just add them to the poaching liquid. The potatoes can go in at the same time, the peas and broadbeans about 15 minutes before the artichokes are cooked. ‘Those Italians’ would cook them all at the same time –they like their food overdone, but maybe they are right and there is more flavour.

I like to present carciofi as a single course – they are too fiddly to eat as an accompaniment to a main course.


Key in “artichokes” in search button for more artichoke recipes.