I'm not a fan of stuff with tomato, but a lot of people would probably like this recipe. It comes from my mother, and from the area around Lucca and everyone raved about it when I was a kid.
The hard part is preparing the artichokes. Take them to the living room and do it in front of the tv! or sit around and do it in a group, as you chat. The cooking is easy.
For four large or six small artichokes:
preparing the artichokes.
Take your artichokes and you'll need to get rid of all the inedible parts - the artichokes need to be prepared so that once they're cooked you eat the whole thing.
To do this, take the artichoke with the stem facing away from you and remove the first row or two of outer leaves entirely, ripping them off. Then take hold of each leaf and pull it backwards folding it where it easily breaks. It will leave a small amount attached to the base, and each layer you pull off will break a little higher. When you snap it, pull down towards the stem so the outer fibers will pull off the outside of the base.
When you have a pale central part left, cut it off so that the pointy tips that are left are all taken off at once but you leave the rest intact.
Peel the stem with a small, sharp knife, cutting it off near the bottom, then pulling with the knife blade and your thumb where the fibrous outside part finishes and the core begins, cut slightly into the fibrous part and pull up with the blade and thumb.
then lay on your cutting board and cut lenghthwise in halves then cut each half in half. Cut out or scrape out the choke (all the fluffy part incide)
That's the hard part. I'm lucky, i can buy them at the market already prepared.
Note that this is WAY more artichoke than the heart - less waste, more to eat.
Cooking the artichokes:
- oil, to film pan
- the four prepared artichokes
- salt and black pepper
- 3 - 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- some nepitella or fresh origano or a pinch (no more) of dried thyme
- 1/4 cup wine
- half a can of good tomatoes (you can use a little more, but these should not be sitting in tomato sauce, they should sort of absorb most of it)
Put a little more than a film of oil on a large, heavy frying pan (so that if yoiu tip the pan you'll get a little puddle of oil), turn on the heat to high and add the artichokes, salt and pepper. Let them brown on all sides with moderate to high heat, stirring and turning them.
Add a few cloves of garlic, smashed. toss over low to moderate heat till the garlic is soft but not brown. Add a little wine (1/4 cup or so) , cook it down to syrup and add a half a can of whole tomatoes and a little water .
Traditionally yuou would add fresh "Nepitella" - a form of wild and mild mint - close in flavor to fresh origano. You could also add a pinch (don';t overdo) of dry thyme or marjoram)
Let them cook slowly, covered, until the artichokes are tender (you can pierce with fork and they aren't hard). You may need to add a little water, stir occasionally and check that they don't dry out - they don't sit under the tomato, but sit in a thin layer of tomato sauce.
(Now, i discovered that if you stop at the browning stage, you have a very tasty artichoke, so that's how I eat them, but most people really like this tomato version).
I hope someone tries it and lets me know how they came out.