Thursday, 27 March 2014

Artichoke Season in Italy

I love artichokes. I can eat them steamed and dip the leaves one by one in butter, I can eat them deep fried, I can eat them as a dip with asiago cheese, I can eat them out of a jar with crackers and I basically, can’t get enough of them.

The artichokes I’ve had at home are smaller so imagine my delight as I sampled my first artichoke in Rome.  They are nothing like the ones I have ever had before!  I knew they were seasonal so I tried to eat them often in restaurants or order them in gourmet shops. If I had the time, I would strip the layers one by one and eat them slowly!

There is a lot more substance to an Italian artichoke. It tastes meatier, there is a lot more of the edible portion available, the flavors are light and subtle, and there are so many variations of what you can do with it.  The main way they prepared it when I was in Italy was to steam it and drizzle olive oil and lemon on it.  At home, I would have to eat a couple because of the size, but in here, one was plenty, even for sharing.

Artichokes are one of the staples of Italian cuisine and they even have artichoke festivals every year to pay homage to this wonderful vegetable. Many restaurants offer prix fixed menus centred around the artichoke. It is low in calories and fat, a good source of dietary fibre,  folic acid and contains many antioxidants. So the next time you are craving a donut, reach for an artichoke instead!

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