Growing up in California, home of the "Artichoke Capital of the World", I have developed a deep and abiding love for that noble thistle.
In fact, it's a personal secret mission of mine to teach anyone and everyone who's remotely interested how to cook and eat artichokes.
But I have to tell you, as much as we Californians love our 'chokes, we have nothing on the Italians!
Hit any farmers market in Italy in spring and you'll find bushels of "carciofi" for sale, at a price of 10 for 1 euro! For comparison, our globe artichokes usually run $3 each around here.
The Italian artichokes are just a bit smaller than our globes, with more tender leaves and hearts. The Italians tend to trim the artichokes of their leaves first and then cook the hearts.
With globes we usually cook and eat the hearts and the leaves (scraping the tender parts from the fibrous parts of the leaves with our teeth as we eat them).
Here is a fabulous recipe for caramelized artichoke hearts and onions taught to me by my friend Wendy Holloway who runs Flavor of Italy, a bed-and-breakfast and cooking school in Rome. BTW, I highly recommend Wendy's B&B and cooking school/tours! We stayed with Wendy on a trip to Rome and had the time of our lives. (Not a paid endorsement.)
The artichokes are first trimmed to their hearts, sliced, and then slowly cooked on the stove-top with sliced onions until beautifully browned and caramelized, and then finished with a sweetened vinegar glaze.
This is seriously one of the best dishes you could ever make with artichokes. If you give it a try, please let us know how you like it!
Sweet and Sour Glazed Artichokes With Caramelized Onions
You can use either standard large globe artichokes for this recipe, or if you can find them, Roman artichokes.
Think of artichoke leaves as the petals of a flower (which indeed they are). Choose artichokes where the leaves haven't opened much. If they've begun to open, the artichoke is probably not as fresh and good as one where the leaves are still closed and tight.
- 3 large globe artichokes (or 4 Roman artichokes)
- 1 large onion, cut in half and thinly sliced cross-wise
- 2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- Lemon for the acidulated water
Prep the artichokes:
Prepare a large bowl of water, squeeze half a lemon into the water. Working with the artichokes one at a time, pull off the outer leaves of the artichoke until they easily snap off.
Peel the stem, and cut off all but 1 to 1 1/2 inches of the stem. Cut off the top half of the artichokes.
Use a paring knife to cut around the edge of the artichoke, removing any green parts. Angle the knife toward the center of the artichoke while you do this so the result is more cone-shaped.
Use a melon baller to scoop out and discard the fuzzy choke in the center of the artichoke.
Cut the artichoke into quarters, and cut each quarter into 3 or 4 slices. Place in the acidified water.
Cook artichokes with sliced onions in olive oil:
Heat olive oil in a 3 to 4 quart, thick-bottomed pot on medium heat. Add the sliced onions and artichoke hearts. Toss to coat with the olive oil.
Cook on medium low to low heat for 40 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are completely cooked through and tender, and the onions are caramelized.
Sprinkle with salt, sugar, and vinegar and cook for a few minutes more