Carciofi alla Romana is a classic of the Roman cuisine. This recipe, traditionally served as an appetizer or a side dish, is extremely tasty, healthy, and simple at the same time. The artichokes are seasoned with garlic and fresh herbs, then cooked until tender but still in shape: delicious!
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ORIGIN OF CARCIOFO ALLA ROMANA
Into the Roman cuisine, the artichoke is a serious matter: this ingredient is considered the king of the vegetable garden! Actually, like the majority of the Roman recipes, the Carciofo alla Romana had a humble origin linked with the peasant culture. Until the end of the First World War, the plantation of the Roman Artichokes called Mammole or Cimaroli had been limited to the small private vegetable gardens. So the fame of Carciofo alla Romana was circumscribed to the region of Lazio and considered a niche recipe.
The ingredients of Carciofi alla Romana are essential: just a few fresh herbs, garlic, and olive oil: common ingredients easy to find into every kitchen of Rome. Visiting Rome, particularly in the spring, every traditional restaurant offers the Carciofi alla Romana: if there is not in the menu, just do not enter!
CARCIOFO ALLA ROMANA VS CARCIOFO ALLA GIUDIA
Sometimes, the Carciofo alla Romana has mistaken another pillar of the Roman cuisine: the Carciofo alla Giudia (click here for the recipe). Actually, these delicious recipes are pretty different. The Carciofo alla Romana is braised until very tender, whereas the Carciofo alla Giudea is fried twice at different temperatures to obtain a soft inside and crispy leaves.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT ARTICHOKES
To make the Carciofi alla Romana in Rome is common to use a particular Artichoke called Mammola or Cimarolo. This Artichoke is particularly tender, thorn-free, and barb-free. Unfortunately, this variety of artichokes is almost impossible to find out of Italy, so I strongly suggest you use baby artichokes.
CARCIOFO ALLA ROMANA SERVING AND PAIRING
Commonly the Carciofi alla Romana are served as an appetizer or a side. The taste of this recipe pairs perfectly both with seafood and meat. I suggest you try the pairing with Saltimbocca alla Romana or roasted Lamb Chops.
CARCIOFI ALLA ROMANA RECIPE
- 16 baby artichokes
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh mint, minced
- 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 lemons
- 1 sprinkle black pepper
- to taste table salt
- CHOOSING AND CLEANING THE ARTICHOKES
Where I currently live, in the United States, the only variety of artichokes I found that fits perfectly with this recipe, is baby artichokes. The globe Artichokes leaves are too though.
First, clean up the baby artichokes. Then, prepare an acidic solution squeezing the juice of two lemons in 2 pints of cold water. Now, peel the base and the stem of the first baby artichoke. Then, cut the artichoke’s tip on top about ⅓. Remove the more leathery leaves to obtain a soft heart. Finish the base of baby artichoke removing any residue tough. Finally, dive the artichoke in the acidulated water.
Repeat this step with the rest of the artichokes.
At this point, rinse the mint and the parsley. Then, mince the leaves of the herbs along with the peeled garlic. Pour the mix in a bowl and add 4 tbsp of Extra-virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of black pepper, and salt to taste. Finally, whisk the mix until consistent.
Widen the leaves of every artichoke and season the inner with the herbs and garlic mixture.
- INTO THE PAN!
Pour a splash of olive oil into a saucepan. Then, place the artichokes in the pan upside down, and add 1 cup of water. Cook the artichokes covered, under medium heat until the artichokes become tender, but still in shape. If necessary, add more boiling water.
Serve the artichokes hot, or warm.
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