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.
Deborah Mele is a self-taught cook whose passion for Italian cuisine began after living in Milan, Italy for 8 years. Although not Italian by birth, she became a true Italian by heart and palate. Deborah created her Italian recipe blog ItalianFoodForever.com 12 years ago to share her passion for Italian food. During her various travels throughout Italy, Deborah fell in love with the central Italian region of Umbria so when they retired, Deborah and her husband bought two farmhouses there where they now reside for six months a year and run a farmhouse rental for guests and give cooking classes.