I have no idea what variety of artichokes we have growing on our hillside. When I arrived in Italy one spring, years ago, our gardener had planted them for me as a surprise. My friend (and next door neighbor), Anna Maria, calls them piccoli verdi. Hers are purplish and larger. “Don’t worry, those little green ones are good too,” she often reassures me.
Actually, they’re not just good – they’re delicious. But of course before you can eat them you must prepare them, and for this artichokes require a bit of patience. So pull a chair up to an outside table (I love cleaning fresh veggies outside!) and spend some time in the present moment cutting and cleaning. (For instructions on how to clean artichokes click here.)
Once cleaned, there are a variety of ways you can prepare fresh artichokes, of course. For tender, early season artichokes I prefer cooking them simplice using a recipe that Anna Maria shared with me. Anna Maria’s recipes rarely include portions, though, so I suppose they’re more like general instructions.
In any case, here are Anna Maria’s general instructions for cooking artichokes with white wine and herbs.
- Slice artichokes in half lengthwise (for larger artichokes, slice in quarters)
- In a large pan, simmer a couple of cloves of minced garlic in extra virgin olive oil. (I use at least 1/4 cup of oil.)
- Place artichokes in the pan
- Add white wine (enough to almost cover the artichokes) and a healthy squeeze of lemon juice
- Finely dice several basil leaves, a few springs of parsley and a few mint leaves (Anna Maria uses a wild mint variety that is very mild) and add herbs to the pan
- Simmer on low heat until artichokes are cooked through and tender – about 30 minutes. Add liquid to the pan and turn artichokes, as needed, so they don’t dry out
- Add salt to taste and serve warm with a drizzle of olive oil.
Pamela Haack creates and hosts boutique-style small group tours, artists’ workshops and retreats that are a combination of the very best of Italy: the exciting and the peaceful, the popular and the secret, the talked about and the never-heard-of-before. From art experts and operettas to authentic cooking classes and ancient Etruscans, Pamela helps guests experience the spectacularly beautiful, endlessly interesting cities and countryside of Italy in an up-close and personal way – off the beaten strada.
Pamela is also the author of Top 10 Favorite Etruscan Sites. She lives with her husband, Lou, in Umbria, Italy.