Anyone into food and visiting Venice will have surely heard wonders about our purple artichokes. These delicacies grow all around the lagoon, also in the area of Cavallino - Treporti, but it is the island of Sant' Erasmo that is traditionally associated to these special green and purple babies and that gives the name to the protection presidia.
Every year, in fact, the inhabitants of Sant' Erasmo organise a feast to celebrate the produce of spring. All Venetians, either by vaporetto or private boat, reach the place looking forward to getting merry drinking salty lagoon wine and to eating the first risotto with carciofi and raw castraure salad with grated parmesan. Unfortunately this year the feast had to be postponed three times until it was finally cancelled, due to the bad weather. The good news is that, anyway, there are plenty of artichokes!
I haven't yet been to Sant' Erasmo this year, but I will soon and I suggest you do the same. Try to avoid the weekend, as now all the islands of the north lagoon seem to attract big groups of tourists and day trippers, so -sorry to say- it spoils all the magic of being immersed in a peaceful and quiet country location, besides... the queues at the vaporetto stop are endless and tiring, especially if you are not used to our humidity. Anyway, Sant' Erasmo is magical. There is nothing really except nature, crops, vines, geese, hens, a couple of roosters and my all time favourite beehive (for more info on Sant' Erasmo, please see my posts: 'A visit to Sant'Erasmo and a Vegetarian Pumpkin Pie' and 'Venice Excursions: Sant' Erasmo') .
In addition to loving the island, I am also extremely passionate about artichokes! When the season starts, Vito and I consume great quantities of these greens. Raw, sautéed, in a soup, with pasta or rice... all recipes just seem to work.
If you ask me, artichokes have the taste of love. Yes, because only if you have the patience and care to remove all the outer -and quite hard- leaves, you get to enjoy the sweet flavour of spring. Artichokes, just like love, require effort, time and attention. Once cleaned, to avoid them oxidate, you must leave them under water and lemon, and to enhance their taste more, you must know which spices work and which don't (garlic, black pepper and parsley are always a certainty!).
So, in today's post I'm sharing three super simple recipes for artichokes suitable for vegetarians and super quick to make. Hope you will enjoy them and let me know!
12 baby artichokes
2 cloves of garlic
a Tbsp taggiasche olives
1. Remove outer leaves from artichokes, wash under fresh water and slice in 6 pieces.
2. Heat a pan, add oil, the crushed cloves of garlic, the olives and when the oil starts popping add the artichokes. Cook for about 30 seconds, then lower the heat, sprinkle some drops of water with the tip of your fingers and squeeze the juice of half a lemon.
3. Let cook at low/medium heat for about 8 minutes, then serve with some toasted brown bread.
150 gr spelt
8 small artichokes
1/2 a can of lentils (about 120 gr.)
6 black olives
2 cloves of garlic
parsley to garnish
1. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add sea salt and cook the spelt for the time indicated on the pack.
2. In the meanwhile, discard the outer leaves of the artichokes and thinly slice lengthwise. Put in a bowl under water and lemon and keep aside.
3. Wash the capers under fresh water, removing the salt, then remove pitch from olives and keep aside.
4. Rinse the lentils. Heat a pan, add the two crushed cloves of garlic, the capers, the olives and the lentils, stir and let cook for about 30 seconds, then add the artichokes, stir again and lower the heat. Remove garlic and cook for about 7 minutes, sprinkling some drops of water when the pan seems to be getting dry.
5. When the spelt is ready, drain and add to the pan. Amalgamate well and let cool.
6. Put the salad in a bowl, dress with olive oil, black pepper and some roughly chopped parsley.
CROSTINI WITH MARINATED FETA, ARTICHOKES AND MINT
4 slices of bread
8 small artichokes
100 gr feta cheese
8 mint leaves
1 garlic clove
1. Remove the outer leaves of the artichokes and slice thinly lengthwise. Put in a bowl under water and lemon and keep aside.
2. Slice the feta cheese into small cubes and put in a shallow bowl with ground pepper, mint leaves and olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the fridge.
3. Heat a pan, add a crushed clove of garlic and when the oil starts popping add he artichokes. Stir, sprinkle some water and lemon juice and lower the heat. Cook for about 7 minutes.
4. Toast the slices of bread and when ready, top with the marinated feta and the sautéed artichokes. If you wish, add some extra mint and serve.