A traditional dish from Rome are these delicious deep-fried artichokes, cooked Jewish-style.
My favourite, and usual, way of cooking and eating artichokes is boiled and served with a spiky vinaigrette or garlic mayonnaise, the recipe which you can find here in one of my earlier posts.
But when a client recently asked me to prepare Roman-style fried artichokes for a photo shoot, I was more than happy to experiment. I was vaguely aware that this recipe used baby artichokes, something which I see frequently at the farmers’ market but, up until this point, had never tried to cook.
If you have ever cooked with fresh artichokes before, particularly the large ones, you will know that one artichoke globe creates far more scraps for the compost than what is actually edible. But the beauty about cooking with baby artichokes is that they are quicker and easier to prepare.
A lot of people seem to be intimidated by artichokes, even if they might be in awe of this intriguing vegetable. But they really are so easy to cook – simply boil them in water with a bit of lemon until they are tender. I have a friend who even uses a pressure cooker to speed up the cooking time. And to eat, you simply pull off each leaf and nibble the flesh off the ends. Once most of the leaves have been removed, you will come to the centre of the artichoke (the heart) where you should remove the fuzzy centre (the choke) before eating.
Roman-style fried artichokes involve deep-frying to make them crispy and utterly delicious – once you have tried fried artichokes, it might be hard to eat them any other way! They are great eaten with just a sprinkle of sea salt, but they are traditionally served with a herby mayonnaise which helps to cut through any greasiness.
Stay tuned for my next post to find out what a famous restaurant in Rome serves alongside these delicious Roman-style fried artichokes!
Roman-Style Fried Artichokes with Herb Mayonnaise
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: Serves 4 as a starter or side dish
For the herb mayonnaise
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- sea salt & freshly ground white pepper
- 250 ml (1 cup) vegetable oil
- lemon, to taste
- 1-2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped
- 1-2 teaspoons chives, finely chopped
For the fried artichokes
- 2-3 dozen baby artichokes
- 1 lemon
- vegetable oil for deep-frying
- Maldon sea salt
For the herb mayonnaise
- Place the egg yolks, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper into the bowl of a small food processor. With the motor running, slowly pour the oil through the funnel.
- Blitz until everything comes together and you have a thick mayonnaise.
- Alternatively, if you do not have a food processor, you can make the mayonnaise using a large bowl and whisk (a hand-held blender with a whisk attachment would be even better!). Place the bowl on a damp cloth to stop it from moving around. Whisk together the egg yolks, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. With one hand quickly whisking the ingredients together, use the other hand to slowly add the oil in a steady stream, stopping as necessary. Keep whisking until all of the oil has been incorporated and the mixture has emulsified into a thick mayonnaise.
- Taste for seasoning. You may wish to add a squirt of lemon, and maybe some more salt and pepper.
- Scoop the mayonnaise into a serving bowl, and stir through the chopped herbs.
For the fried artichokes
- Fill a large bowl with cold water. Quarter the lemon and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Place the squeezed lemons in the water as well.
- Take a baby artichoke and remove some of the tough outer leaves and trim the base.
- Using a very sharp knife, slice off the tip of the artichoke (about 1/3 of the artichoke).
- Cut the artichoke in half, and remove the choke (fuzzy centre) if necessary. Generally, really small artichokes do not have any fuzzy chokes.
- Place the prepared the artichoke immediately into the bowl of water to stop it from discolouring.
- Repeat the above process with the remaining artichokes.
- Heat enough oil in a medium-sized saucepan for deep-frying (about 5cm or 2 inch depth) to 120°C (250°F).
- Meanwhile, drain the artichokes with kitchen paper, making sure they are completely dry.
- Cook the artichokes in batches for about 5 minutes until they are just beginning to brown. Remove them to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain.
- Increase the heat to 190°C (375°F).
- Again, cook the artichokes in batches for 1-2 minutes, or until they are golden and crispy.
- Drain them on a plate lined with kitchen paper, sprinkle with sea salt, and serve immediately.
The mayonnaise can be kept covered in the fridge for a few days.
You could also use large globe artichokes in this recipe. However, you will need to adjust the cooking time accordingly, and you will definitely need to remove the fuzzy choke when preparing the artichokes.
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If you have used this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos by tagging @eatlittlebird on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and using #eatlittlebird
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