Artichokes would be my everyday veggie of choice if I had to choose just one. I don’t think I’d get sick of them in a year of eating them. Because the artichoke season in Italy is so brief, I try to organise our vacations around it. Artichokes are readily available in Italy, but in North America, unless you reside in California, it’s very impossible to acquire high-quality artichokes outside of a few weeks around Easter. Artichokes that are heavy and firm are the best to buy. It is important that the artichokes have a healthy green colour, compact centre leaves, and an overall appearance of freshness. Store fresh artichokes in an airtight plastic bag at home and keep them in the refrigerator for up to a week. Before storing, do not use water to clean the item. When kept in a cool, dry place, they’ll keep for about a week. If you’ve never cleaned an artichoke before, it’s not that difficult. To clean an artichoke, you might benefit from reading my guide. I like to serve these fried artichokes as an appetiser, but they can also be used as a vegetable side dish with other proteins like chicken or fish.

Artichokes can be prepared in a plethora of ways, but my favourites are to braise them in white wine and olive oil or fried them rapidly. If Judy Witts Francini (Divina Cucina), a friend and cooking teacher, has a simple method for frying artichokes, I knew I had to try it. To make a light batter, combine the cleaned artichokes with the beaten egg, then add the flour and salt. Chokes have a rich brown crust after being fried. In the future, I intend to utilise this recipe whenever my family asks for fried artichokes.

When it comes to its origins, the artichoke is actually a perennial plant that hails from the thistle family of sunflowers and is thought to be native to the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. After reaching a mature height of three to four feet, the plant can cover an area of roughly six feet in circumference. “Vegetable” is in fact the plant’s bloom, which we consume. The violet-blue flowers can grow up to seven inches in diameter if allowed to bloom. More than 140 kinds of artichoke exist, although only 40 of them are farmed economically. The majority of the world’s artichokes are now farmed in France, Italy, and Spain, with California producing nearly all of the country’s supply. The climate in Umbria is ideal for growing artichokes, and as a result, we have several in our garden.

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