Angelo Valiani, an innovative cook who lived at the end of the nineteenth century, was known for his delicious carciofini sott'olio (artichoke in oil) that he sold at train stations in Rome and other towns. He was so proud of his artichoke dish that he wanted to name his newborn son Carciofino. However, his priest refused to baptize the boy with such a bizarre name. But Valiani persisted; he argued that if Pope Leo XIII (Leone - lion) could be inspired by the name of a wild animal, the church should not object to the name for his son. The priest was convinced and the boy was christened Carciofino (little artichoke).
While I am sure that Valiani's artichoke was phenomenal, I am equally certain that you will become an artichoke-a- holic once you taste this heavenly Carciofi alla Romana.
Carciofi alla romana makes a perfect antipasto served with a good artisanal crusty bread. It can also be served as a side for a fish, beef or chicken dish.
8 -10 artichokes (preferred violet “Roman”)
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup mint, chopped
1/4 cup fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for finishing
1/4 cup of water
Preparing the artichokes:
Protect your hands from staining with latex gloves or rub them with lemon
Fill a big bowl with cold water and squeeze in a half lemon (keep the other half handy).
Keep the stem attached and discard the tough outer leaves of the artichoke, until you reach the tender leaves. (The tender leaves are usually yellow.) Cut the artichokes bottom, until you reach the choke (the hairy white part) and scoop out the choke.
Artichokes oxidize quickly. To prevent this, rub all cut surfaces with a half lemon. Place the cleaned and rubbed artichokes in the water-lemon bowl. This process prevents the inside of the artichokes from changing color when exposed to the air.
- Firmly press each artichoke upside down on the counter to make it “bloom.” Place artichokes side by side, upside in a heavy-bottomed pot.
- Mix all other ingredients and pour over the artichokes.
- Cover the top of the pot with a tight-fitting lid to prevent any steam from escaping.
- Cook on medium for 30 minutes.
- Check the pot every 10 minutes and add some water if liquid level has reduced.
- The artichokes are ready when a fork pierces them easily.
- Artichokes can be served hot or at room temperature.
- Just before serving, drizzle olive oil over these delicious artichokes.