When I was in Rome last year I was disappointed with the food (I had better food luck in Florence). At one point we wandered into a small restaurant where for an appetizer I had carciofi a la romana, a traditional preparation of artichoke poached in olive oil. It was the highlight of an otherwise lousy meal. Of course, artichokes are maybe my favorite vegetable, so I was predisposed to like it, but the poaching imparted both lovely flavor and texture.
I recently picked up some baby artichokes, so I decided to poach them as well. In a deep pot I put some sliced lemon, fresh marjoram, coarse sea salt, and black pepper. I trimmed the artichokes and added them, then poured olive oil over it until the artichokes were covered. I turned up the heat and let it go until the oil started to bubble, then turned the heat down as low as it would go. I wasn’t looking to fry the artichokes, after all.
After about half an hour of carefully monitoring the heat, I turned off the burner and let everything sit for another 15 minutes. The aromas of lemon and herb filled the kitchen, making the waiting even harder. Finally I pulled the artichokes out, let the excess oil drain out, and dug in.
The artichokes were perfectly soft with a subtle lemon flavor. They did taste better with another sprinkle of sea salt on top, but otherwise they were great. I only wish I had bought more of them, I could have snacked on them all day long.
Posted by Howard