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Artichokes, Roman Style

Artichokes, Roman Style
Rome's Campo dei Fiori market offers some of the world's most beautiful artichokes, which are given the following treatment in countless Roman homes and restaurants.

Ingredients:

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 large artichokes
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • Large pinch of salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

Fill a bowl three-fourths full of water and add the lemon juice. Working with 1 artichoke at a time and starting at the base, break off 3 or 4 rows of the tough outer leaves, snapping them downward, until you reach the pale yellow-green inner leaves, which are tender enough, when cooked, to eat in their entirety. Cut off about 1 inch from the top of the artichoke. Using a small, sharp knife, cut off the bottom of the stem and then peel the stem until it is a pale green. Trim away any tough green parts from the base. Drop the trimmed artichoke into the lemon water to prevent browning and put an inverted plate in the bowl to keep the artichoke submerged. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.

In a small bowl, combine the parsley, mint, garlic, 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and large pinch of salt and stir to mix well.

One at a time, remove the artichokes from the lemon water and, using your fingertips, gently open them slightly (like a flower) to expose the choke. Using your fingers, pull out the prickly inner leaves and discard. Using a sharp-edged spoon, scoop out and discard the hairy chokes. Spoon one-fourth of the herb mixture into each artichoke cavity.

In a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the artichokes, stem ends up, and then add the wine and water. Bring to a simmer, cover and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the artichoke bottoms are tender when pierced, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the artichokes to a platter, stem ends up. Taste the cooking liquid; add salt if needed, then reduce over medium-high heat to about 1/4 cup. Spoon over the artichokes. Serve warm (not hot) or at room temperature.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Classic Pasta at Home, by Janet Fletcher (Time-Life Books, 1998).