Don’t you just love Spring? Spring in Rome is just spectacular! The Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna) are lined with bright pink azaleas and the markets brim with color and, best of all, artichokes! They’re everywhere – and my absolute favorite vegetable. John and I often wonder who first figured out that these thorny globes were edible. Well, we’re indebted to whoever it was! Because of our love of artichokes, we decided to try Carciofi alla Romana from Elizabeth Minchilli’s Eating Rome as soon as we received it. They’re cleaned, embedded with seasoning, steamed, and drizzled with olive oil – what could be better? This dish is enjoyed all over Rome in the springtime.
When St. Martin’s Griffin offered me a review copy of Elizabeth Minchilli’s Eating Rome to review, I couldn’t say, “Si!” fast enough! It’s easy to get confused about where to eat in a city with thousands of choices. Elizabeth deciphers every type of eating establishment and helps narrow down the best of everything. Eating Rome is part travel book, part cookbook, and part memoir. It’s filled with wonderful information on one of the most fundamental foundations of Roman living – good, fresh food. She also provides recipes and suggestions in this book that’s loaded with photos. This is the best kind of travel book. It’s like having a personal guide with you – one who helps you navigate through the seasons, traditions, eateries and menus of Rome. It’s obvious that you should avoid tourist menus, but may not be as obvious where the better choices lie. With Elizabeth at your side, you’re sure to find something to suit your palate in every part of the city.
- 4 large artichokes
- 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 bunch fresh mint
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Trim the artichokes (see Elizabeth's blog for detailed instructions).
- Using either a knife or a food processor, chop the parsley, garlic, and mint.
- As you chop, add ½ teaspoon salt and about ¼ teaspoon of pepper.
- Place in a small bowl and slowly add the ¼ cup of olive oil and stir to amalgamate the mixture
- Lift an artichoke out of the water and gently blot off the water with a paper towel.
- Hold the artichoke in one hand, and carefully loosen the leaves, being careful not to break any off.
- Take a bit of the herb mixture and force it in between the leaves and into the center of the artichoke.
- Keep doing this, until the artichoke is well seasoned.
- You want to use about 2 tablespoons of mixture per artichoke.
- Repeat for all the artichokes.
- Choose a pot in which the artichokes will fit very snugly, and place them, one against the other, with the tops up.
- If the stalks of the artichokes are big and thick, you can use those (trimmed of the tough outer part) to keep the artichokes from tipping over.
- Otherwise, you can use pieces of potato as wedges.
- Pour enough water to come up about 1 inch from the bottom of the pan.
- Be careful not to pour the water directly onto the artichokes; you don't want to dilute the seasoning.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle abundantly with olive oil.
- Place the lid on the pot and bring to a low simmer.
- Cook until the artichokes are done, 45 minutes to an hour.
- You can check to see if they're done by pulling on a leaf.
- It should come out easily.
- Also check the water frequently as the artichokes cook to make sure it hasn't boiled away, adding more if needed.
- Carciofi alla romana are best served at room temperature.
- I like to place them in a deep serving dish, with the cooking liquid at the bottom, and accompany them with lots of fresh bread to soak it up.
Although these artichokes were a little laborious, they really took us back to Rome! The herb mixture is just right to allow the sweetness of the artichokes to shine through. So, if you’re nostalgic for the flavors of Italy, You can’t go wrong with these!
Organized around the highlights of the Roman food culture, in Eating Rome Minchilli offers her recommendations for all her favorite places to eat, leaving no stone unturned, she shares everything from the places to grab a panino on the go and best trattorias that still have an antipasto buffet, to the classic, old-fashioned ristorantes that have existed for decades and the best places to go out for a true, multicourse Sunday lunch. ~ Press Release
Like Elizabeth Minchilli, I moved to Italy in 1972. I lived in Naples for 3 1/2 years before moving to Rome in 1975. I attended the Overseas School of Rome for grades 8 – 10, and returned to Rome in the Spring of 1981 with the University of Dallas. And. like her, I fell in love with the markets and artichokes of Rome.