More information on Sicilian artichokes?

I recently moved to Germany, and can't easily find my favorite food, artichokes from Watsonville, CA. However, I know Sicily is big on artichokes, and even have an artichoke festival, which I plan on attending. The only other thing I know about Sicilian artichokes is that they're purple. Can anybody give me more information about how locals cook and eat them? Also, what are they normally served with?

2 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    A longstanding theory suggests that artichokes actually originated in Sicily. That would be a unique distinction in a land whose culture and cuisine is an amalgamation of foreign ones. In any event, we know that the globe artichoke, cynara scolymus, cultivated in some fifty varieties, evolved in the western or central Mediterranean. Artichokes are in the asteraceae (compositae) family. The wild spiny artichoke, featuring tough leaves ending in thorns, is the most popular form in Sicily, where one town, Cerda (in Palermo province) has erected a tall sculptural monument to this most singular vegetable in the main square. This thistle-like perennial should not be confused with the Jerusalem artichoke, related to the sunflower. More closely related to the artichoke is the cardoon (cynara cardunculus), a French delicacy whose comparatively slender stalks are eaten. Sicilians, however, make little distinction here, and consume the thicker stalks of the artichoke as though they were, in fact, cardoons. The buds of the true cardoon (cardunculus) are not usually eaten, while those of scolymus are consumed as artichokes. Cardoons are taller than artichoke plants, which grow closer to the ground. Some artichokes are quite large, and range in colour from deep green to yellowish or even purplish. The domesticated varieties have no thorns.

    The artichoke was known in Norman Sicily and Moorish Spain, though it appears not to have been cultivated in mainland Italy during that period. This suggests an Arab origin. The Latin word is cynara, while the Italian word carciofo is a cognate of the Arabic kharshuff. In Sicily, Greek and Roman artistic representations of the purple flower suggest that the species was present centuries before the medieval Saracen conquest of the island. The literary work of Pliny and other ancient writers associated with Greece and Sicily suggest that little distinction was made between the artichoke and the cardoon, and this is consistent with modern Sicilian usage. Artichokes, which don't like too much moisture, are harvested twice annually. The Spring harvest is more substantial than the Autumn crop.



    •12 artichokes

    •2 ounces (weight; 50 g, or 1/8 pound) onions, minced

    •1/2 cup (50 g) bread crumbs

    •3 cloves garlic, minced

    •A bunch of parsley, minced

    •6 salted anchovy filets, rinsed and boned

    •Olive oil, salt, and pepper

    •Grated pecorino (optional, and purists omit it)

    •The juice of a lemon


    This sounds South Italian, and Pino Correnti has a recipe that is quite similar in his fascinating book, Il Grande Libro D'Oro della Cucina e Dei Vini di Sicilia. He doesn't say haw many it serves, but with 12 artichokes one can expect to serve six or more.

    Remove and discard the tough outer leaves of the artichokes, then trim their points, cut the bases off flat, and put them to soak in salted water to which you have added the lemon juice for about an hour; while they're soaking trim away the ridged "bark" of the stems, cut them into inch-long pieces, and add them to the artichokes.

    Mince the other ingredients that need it, and combine them all in a bowl, seasoning the filling to taste with salt.

    Drain the artichokes, spread the petals with your fingers, and slip the filling between the petals with the aid of a spoon. Set the stuffed artichokes in a pan, put the pieces of stem between them, drizzle well with olive oil, and add enough cold water to reach half way up the artichokes. Dust with more salt and pepper to taste, set the pan over a medium flame, and simmer the artichokes for about an hour, adding a little more water to the pan if need be to keep them from drying out.


  • Anonymous
    4 years ago


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