Venetian artichokes probably represent the most traditional artichoke recipe from northeastern Italy. A country, ours, that has a record of recipes made with artichokes, for the banal reason that these particular cardoons originate from Italy.
The truth is that both the Greeks and the early Romans ate artichokes. But in the wild variety: the transition from wild to cultivated occurred around the 2nd century AD, probably in Sicily.
Venetian artichokes are cooked in stews in a frying pan (in Tecia, in Venetian dialect), almost like the best-known Roman artichokes. Same technique, but totally different flavors and aromas. They are offered both as a side dish and as an appetizer.
The parallel with Rome is not coincidental. In fact, it is known to what extent Roman gastronomy is linked to artichokes, while it is not at all known that the same is true of Venetian gastronomy. In particular for the province of Venice, where the Sant’Erasmo violet is produced: a typical variety of artichoke that has become a Slow Food presidium.
They are tender artichokes (not the ones in the photo), spiny, elongated in shape and dark purple in color.
They are diligently advertised as meaty and tender to the point that they can even be eaten raw, in salads. Which is true, but more or less like all artichokes, yes, if they are very young or if the flower is almost completely stripped of its leaves. So much so that Venetian artichokes are usually cooked using only the heart, that is, completely or almost completely eliminating the leaves (“almost” because sometimes recipe books specify that one or two centimeters can be kept).
However, the recipe is excellent and deserves to be cooked with all varieties of artichoke.
It is necessary to mention one particular variant, very tasty. Compared to the more traditional version that we propose, Venetian artichokes are usually prepared by adding breadcrumbs in the broth. Only 2 or 3 tablespoons are added directly to the cooking broth. This way the flavors come together as the broth dries and the breadcrumbs settle between the leaves.
Lately it is becoming fashionable. Also add a little grated cheese (mainly Grana Padano, but also Asiago), always in the broth, along with the breadcrumbs.
- 6 artichokes
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 die
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Remove the tough outer leaves from the artichokes, then trim the remaining leaves by removing about the top half. Also remove any internal lint and clean the cores, leaving only 2 cm from the base. While you clean them, soak them in water acidified with lemon juice.
- Prepare a saucepan of broth by dissolving the broth cube in 350 ml of boiling water (no less, otherwise it will be too salty)
- In a frying pan capable of holding all the artichokes, sauté the garlic and a heaping tablespoon of chopped parsley with 4 tablespoons of oil over very low heat.
- As soon as the garlic begins to brown, place the artichokes in the pan with the stems facing down. With a teaspoon we put a little fried garlic and parsley on each artichoke. Season with a generous amount of ground pepper and pour a full glass of broth (about 200 ml) into the pan. Cook over moderate heat for 10 minutes with the lid on, calculating the time from when the broth begins to simmer.
- Remove the lid, moisten each artichoke generously with the cooking juice and let it cook until the juice is thick, almost dry. The artichokes should be very tender: if necessary, continue cooking, gradually adding more broth. Do not add salt because the broth already has enough flavor.
- Venetian artichokes should be served hot but not too hot, moistened with the cooking juices and sprinkled with lemon juice.