Artichokes can be enjoyed in Rome practically all year round these days … because when they aren’t available locally, many restaurants will import them from Brittany in France. I, being a little conservative on matters of seasonality, prefer to wait and enjoy them when they actually are in season. They start timidly towards the end of October and the best ones for this time of year hail from either Puglia or Sardinia. They are not as large as the famed Roman artichoke and thus benefit from being cooked in ways that are more appropriate to their smaller size.
Small or large, the only real trouble with artichokes … is … having to trim them. All those leaves !
What you see in the photo are five smallish artichokes that came from Puglia … cut into quarters and deprived of any ‘fuzzy’ bits. A peeled artichoke will blacken very quickly and needs to be temporarily immersed in plenty of water with a squeeze of lemon in it.
What you see in the foreground are all the outer leaves and inner trimmings of the artichokes that are going to be discarded (either in the recylcing or in a compost heap) … in terms of volume, what gets thrown away of the artichoke is far more than what gets kept!
W hile you are busy trimming the artichokes, put some watr on to boil and when it does, add 1 spoonful of salt. When all your artichokes are ready, simmer them for 10 minutes or until fork tender.
And then drain them and set aside to cool a little.
What you see here is grated pecorino romano cheese (80g) and Italian-style breadcrumbs (100g). Mix the two together and set aside.
And this is a most useful little kitchen toy … not a novelty but I have to say that it really comes into its own when you are doing a lot of cooking requiring olive oil drizzling, or for recipes like today’s.
Bring out the artist in you … and ‘paint’ some olive oil all over the bottom of an oven proof dish. I thought this drizzle was most Mondrian-like, no?
Tuck the artichokes into the dush … and those ling thin strands? they’re parsley stems. I added them for no good reason other than I felt like it.
Drizzle olive oil all over the artichokes … and season with salt. Yes, despite the inherent saltiness of pecorino romano, the recipe still calls for the addition of some salt. You could add pepper too, if you like.
Here is a close-up … I just love the look of artichokes … there is something so happy about them.
And now it’s time to shower the artichokes with the breadcrumb-pecorino mixture … be generous.
Yet more painting’ with olive oil … this time I drizzled it à la Jackson Pollock. Ahem …
And now pop the oven pan into a pre-heated oven for roughly 20 minutes. The temperature of the oven was 200°C.
Out they come ! Looking deliciously toasted already …
And here is what was left over the next day … served on a gorgeous ‘Giardini di Sole’ Bellafrutta plate (www.giardinidisole.com).
Aside from the bother of cleaning and trimming the artichokes, this is a recipe that delivers an awful lot of taste and wow-factor for relatively little effort.