In Sicily in the spring, artichokes seem to be growing everywhere, wild in the fields and carefully tended in backyard gardens. The bumper crop is used in dozens of ways—deep-fried, stuffed, roasted over hot coals, tossed with pasta, braised with other spring vegetables—but this tortino di carciofi, a simple omelet, is a seasonal favorite.
- 1/2 lemon
- 2 large artichokes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 8 eggs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Fill a bowl three-fourths full with cold water. Squeeze in the juice of the lemon half. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, cut off the top 3/4 inch of the leaves with a serrated knife to remove the prickly tips. Trim the stem even with the bottom. Pull off the tough, dark green outer leaves until you reach the tenderest, pale green inner leaves. Peel off the tough, dark outer flesh around the base of the leaves. Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise, and then scoop out the fuzzy choke at the base of the leaves. Cut each half lengthwise into slices 1/4 inch thick. Drop the slices into the lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichoke. Let stand for 20 minutes.
Drain the artichoke slices and pat dry with paper towels. In a 9- or 10-inch ovenproof fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil with the garlic. Sauté until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add the artichoke slices and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are tender, about 10 minutes.
Preheat a broiler. In a bowl, whisk the eggs until blended, and then whisk in the cheese and a little salt and pepper. Uncover the pan, spread the artichokes evenly over the bottom and slowly pour the eggs over the artichokes, trying not to dislodge them. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until the eggs begin to set, 1 to 2 minutes. Then, using a spatula, lift the edges of the egg to allow the uncooked egg to flow underneath. Continue to cook until the edges and bottom are set but the center is moist, about 3 minutes more.
Transfer the pan to the broiler about 4 inches from the heat source and broil until the top sets and browns lightly, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully so that it does not overbrown. Slide the tortino onto a serving plate, cut into wedges and serve. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007).