Carciofi Carciofi Carciofi
The three years we were living in Charleston I dreamt of the artichokes in Rome, not only their freshness and perfection, but also of the cost. Artichokes are simply expensive in the States, or at least in the States that I lived in, maybe you can buy a bushel for $3 in California, but not in Charleston, Atlanta or New York. I think I have mentioned that artichokes were special occasion food for my growing up, at $2 an artichoke they had to be.
I was at the market the other day and they were selling 20 artichokes for €2 or €3. Not thinking about how hard it would be to eat all of those artichokes between the three of us and what I would do with them all, I went ahead and bought them. I eyed the expressions on the faces of the stout signore buying artichokes from various vendors and knew that even though the ones I chose were €1 more, they were the better choice. I handed the farmer my money and picked up my giant bushel of artichokes. The old ladies were picking them up with such ease and grace, I didn’t even imagine that they would be heavy. I nearly broke my hand lugging those mothers back to the car, swearing the entire way and amazed at the strength that old women in this country have. They didn’t even blink an eye, didn’t wince in pain as the plastic rope cut through their delicate fingers, their cloths weren’t wet from the water dripping from the artichokes, they appeared to not even have to change the position that they were carrying them in. Tough ladies. I wanted to follow them home to see what they were going to make with all of their artichokes.
We ended up eating them three ways, in a savory pie with puff pastry and ricotta, in a pasta and fried. I may go back for the same deal if they are still in abundance at the market this week.
Artichoke and Ricotta Pie
- 1 package of puff pastry
- 6 medium artichokes
- 15 oz. ricotta
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup of grated parmigiano reggiano
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp of nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Prepare a bowl with cold water and lemon juice.
Clean the artichokes by eliminating their outer leaves; you can do this by bending them and snapping them off. Do this until you get to the leaves that are lighter in color. Cut off the tip of the central cone, to eliminate the tougher green end of the leaves. Cut the heart in half and scoop out the inside chokes with a knife or a small spoon. Cut the heart of the artichoke into thin slices and immerse in the lemon water. If your artichokes have stems, cut the stem off and peel it of its outer skin. Chop into small cubes.
Heat oil in a wide saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté artichokes over high heat for a few minutes and add water if they start to dry out. Lower heat to a medium flame and cover pan. Stirring occasionally. Sauté artichokes for at least 30 minutes, or until they are tender but not too soft, they will continue to cook in the oven. You can sauté the artichokes the day before.
Arrange your puff pastry in the pie pan or casserole, depending on the shape of your crust.
Prepare the ricotta by stirring it with a whisk. Add eggs, parmigiano reggiano, salt, pepper and nutmeg, blend well and add the artichokes. Fill the puff pastry with the artichoke-ricotta mix. I ended up with more puff pastry than I needed and made a covered pie, this is optional.
Place pie in the center of the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until browned and serve either warm or at room temperature.
One Year Ago: Wahoo with Citrus and Pistachios
Two Years Ago: Pastiera