Enjoy the last artichokes of the season battered and fried for a truly tantalizing appetizer. Serve with lemon wedges or a tangy aioli.
Although I love just about any vegetable you could name, I must admit that spring vegetables such as artichokes, asparagus, fava beans, and tiny spring peas are my favorites. We planned our return to Umbria a week or two later than usual and unfortunately we arrived at the end of the spring harvest. Unlike North America where they import vegetables year round from different countries, if vegetables are not in season they simply are not available here in Italy. If you prefer certain vegetables, you learn very quickly that you have to enjoy them to the fullest when they are in season.
If I had to pick one vegetable as my favorite, it would be artichokes, and I prepare them almost on a daily basis when they are available. After arriving back in Italy the beginning of May, the first thing I did was head to a local outdoor market to buy artichokes. I bought both the tiny purple ones as well as the larger spiny ones, and we actually made a meal of artichokes prepared three ways.
Artichokes are intimidating for many as they do require a fair amount of preparation before you can cook them. Once you have cleaned an artichoke or two, you will realize that although a bit time consuming, it is rather easy. You can see my post on How To Clean An Artichoke for help. While you clean your chokes, do keep them in a bowl of lemon water, so they do not oxidize and turn brown. This recipe is similar to how I prepare my Fried Zucchini Flowers as the cleaned chokes are cut into pieces, dipped in a light batter and are then fried in oil. I use sunflower oil for my deep frying, but any light tasting oil will work fine. I made a lemon aioli to dip my fried artichokes in, although my husband prefers them simply with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of sea salt. I am including the sauce recipe, but they are just as tasty on their own.
- 6 to 8 Medium Artichokes
- 1 Large Lemon
- ¾ Cup All-purpose Flour
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Cup Water
- 1 Egg White
- Oil For Frying
- Sea Salt
- 2 Extra-large Egg Yolks
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 Garlic Clove, Peeled
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- 1½ Cup s Olive Oil & Canola Oil Blend
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Zest
- Salt & Pepper
- To make the aioli, combine the egg yolks, mustard, and garlic in a food processor, and process until smooth.
- Add the lemon juice and pulse to combine.
- With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until the sauce becomes thick and creamy.
- Add the lemon zest and pulse briefly to combine.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, then place in a bowl and store in the refrigerator until needed.
- Combine the flour, salt, olive oil, and water in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 2 hours.
- Cut the lemon in half, and squeeze it into a large bowl with cold water.
- Trim the stems and cut off ⅓ off the top of each choke.
- Snap off the outer dark leaves, leaving the tender pale inner leaves. (See my tutorial How To Clean An Artichoke, link above)
- Cut the artichokes in half and scoop out the furry inner chokes.
- Place the prepared chokes in the acidulated water until needed.
- Just before frying, beat the egg white until stiff peaks form, and fold into the batter.
- Heat a medium sized pot with oil at least 2 inches deep over medium high heat until the oil measures 375 degrees F.
- Pat the chokes dry with a kitchen towel, then cut each half into two or more pieces.
- Cooking in batches, first dip the pieces of artichokes into the batter, and then fry until crisp and light golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the chokes to a paper towel lined platter after they have been fried.
- Season with sea salt, then arrange on a serving platter and serve alongside the lemon aioli sauce.