We returned to Umbria earlier than when we usually do this year, because we had to open up both houses before we leave for Puglia the beginning of May. Although being in Umbria in April means that the temperatures are a little cooler than we like, it also means that we get to experience a longer artichoke season. I never tasted an artichoke until I married into my husband’s Italian family, many, many, years ago and it was love at first bite. I think if you were to try and describe to someone who was unfamiliar with artichokes just what they taste like, it would be difficult. I find them to be a very versatile vegetable, and I prepare them in just about every way possible during their short season. I once even served my husband a dinner that consisted only of artichokes, prepared four different ways.
This dish consists of tender artichokes braised in a spicy tomato sauce, and it is so good that I could eat these artichokes alone for my meal along with a couple of slices of crusty Italian bread. I also thought about serving these chokes with a fried or poached egg on top, which would add a little extra protein to the dish. These artichokes are great served warm or at room temperature, but however you serve them, make sure that you offer some good Italian bread along with them to sop up every last drop of the tasty sauce. Some folks are a little intimidated by the thought of cleaning a fresh artichoke, but it is quite easy. You can get some tips by looking at my step by step tutorial How To Clean An Artichoke. I do not want to sound like a food snob, but this dish is best using fresh artichokes. If finding fresh artichokes is impossible for you than the next best thing would be frozen artichokes. Do not use canned or marinated chokes sold in jars. When cooking in my kitchen, I use whatever fresh herbs I have on hand. We have a lot of parsley growing everywhere right now, so that is what I used here, but fresh mint or even basil would also work well. I also think that a handful of flavorful olives such as Kalamata would be delicious in this dish.
BRAISED ARTICHOKES IN TOMATO SAUCE
- 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
- 4 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 1/2 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
- 1 Cup Dry White Wine
- 1 (14 Ounce) Can Chopped Tomatoes (I Prefer Mutti Brand)
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves (See Notes Above), Divided
- 6 Medium Artichokes, Cleaned & Placed In A Lemon Water Bath To Prevent Discoloration
- Cut the artichokes into half lengthwise.
- In a heavy pot (I use my terra-cotta baker), heat the oil over medium heat until lightly smoking.
- Add the garlic, pepper flakes and cook a minute or two until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the wine, tomatoes, and half the parsley.
- Season well with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.
- Add the artichokes cut side down, and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Cook about 40 to 45 minutes, turning the artichokes halfway, until the chokes are fork tender and the sauce has thickened.
- Stir in the remainder of the parsley, and arrange the chokes on a platter.
- Spoon the sauce over the artichokes and serve immediately.