Roman style artichokes recipe: easy to follow recipe to make this traditional veggie Rome starter at home
Artichokes are a popular food in Rome. All traditional Rome restaurants have them on the menu and you also regularly find them in markets and supermarkets around the city, usually between the month of December and April, when they are in season.
Italians call artichokes carciofi and use them in several dishes, ranging from appetizers to pasta and sides.
In Rome, there are 2 main ways to prepare artichokes:
One is the one we cover with this recipe, the ‘carciofi alla romana’ lit Roman style artichokes.
The other way is called Carciofi alla giudia, lit. Jewish style artichokes, and is also typical from Rome, specifically the Rome Jewish community
Both artichoke specialties are absolutely delicious and I urge you to try both when looking for a traditional food experience in Rome and decide which one is your favorite: we Romans have divided ourselves, so there is no wrong answer here!
Once you have tasted the real thing, you can then try to replicate the magic at home. This recipe is meant yo help you do just that!
Roman style artichokes recipe: pin for later!
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What is the difference between Roman style artichokes and Jewish style artichokes?
Both artichoke recipes, the Roman style and Jewish style ones, originate from Rome and if you have never had either, it can be hard to remember which is which.
However, once you have tasted or even just seen the two dishes, you won’t run the risk of getting confused: they are as different as they can be!
The Roman style artichokes are soft artichokes prepared in a stewing pot and served with herbs: they are most often presented whole and they have a typical artichoke color, between brown and sage green
Jewish style artichokes, on the other hand, are deep-fried and always presented whole, usually one of them sitting alone in the middle of the plate.
Jewish style artichokes look very impressive and stay true to the fact that an artichoke is a flower: the large Jewish artichoke is basically a huge fried flower bursting with artichoke-y flavor!
A Roman-style artichoke has a more traditional side dish look but they are equally delicious and juicier. These are the ones we are making with this recipe!
What does alla romana mean?
Alla romana means literally ‘Roman style’ or ‘in the style of Rome’.
Roman in this case do not refert to ancient Rome but Rome as a city.
The name refers to the fact that this type of artichoke preparation is typical of the capital and of the Lazio region, mostly because of the ingredients used, which are distinctive of this area: the roman artichoke Romanesco or Mammola, in Italian or globe artichoke in English, and the herb ‘mentuccia’.
What do you need to make Carciofi alla romana: ingredients and gear
Carciofi alla Romana are a popular dish in origin and do not need any fancy equipment.
The real must have here are:
- A bowl of water and lemon juice
- A sharp knife
- A stewing pot with lid (or anyway a pot you can put on a hob with high enough sides to comfortable hold the artichokes)
- Roman artichokes (Or globe artichokes)
- Mentuccia (if you cannot find it, you can use parsley or a mix of parsley and a very small amount of mint)
- Olive oil
How to prepare artichokes for Carciofi alla Romana
Carciofi alla Romana are not difficult to make. However, you start from raw artichokes this recipe and this means you need to bear with a little bit of preparation.
Need to know! Raw artichokes will stain your hands black. To avoid this annoying consequence if you r hard work, you can use single-use gloves or rub your hands with lemon (only do this if you know your skin can take it: it can get pretty prickly if you have delicate skin.
Take your roman artichoke and peel away the external, harder leaves. Take away as many as you need to get to the lighter-colored, softer leaves, then chop off the pointy part of the artichoke, taking away about 2 inches.
What you need to be left with is the bottom half of the artichoke and the stem: it will end up looking a little bit like a buttercup!
Then use a knife to remove the hardest part of the leaves around the stem.
Trim down the stem itself so that it gets a little slimmer and cut it down to be about 2 inches long. Do not throw put the rest of the stem, it is actually one of the best parts of the artichoke and you will cook it with the rest!
Finally, use the sharp point of your knife to empty the center of your artichoke cup, the fluffy bit so to speak.
Rub the artichoke with lemon and put it into your bowl of water and lemon juice: this will prevent it from turning dark while you prepare the others.
Top tip! The artichokes will float. To precent the outside from turning dark, take kitchen paper, wet it and press it down on them so they are all exposed to the lemon.
Once all the artichokes are ready, prepare your herbs mixing garlic and mentuccia, salt and pepper.
Rub this mix inside the artichokes generously
How to cook your Roman style artichokes
Now that your artichokes are ready, you need to cook them and this is where the Roman style element kicks in too!
Romans love to cook with olive oil mixes with water: the water steams the food and cooks it nicely then, once evaporated, the hot oil gives a last crispy taste to your dish. Simple and delicious!
Take your pan, put a little bit of olive oil in and place the artichokes face down: make sure they are very close to each other and use the stems to fill in possible gaps: this will prevent them from opening.
Add a couple of spoonfuls of hot water, cover your pan and let cook until the artichokes are soft: it will take about 30 mins. serve hot!
Ready to give it a shot? Find the exact ingredients and process to make Roman style artichokes below!
- 4 globe artichokes
- 1 clove of garlic
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
- Mentuccia (or a mix of fresh parsley and mint)
- Before you start, make sure you have a bowl or cold water and lemon juice beside you: this will keep your artichokes from turning dark!
- Start by cleaning your artichokes: using a sharp knife, get rid of the external dark leaves
- Then, use the knife to chop off the top part of the artichike, the last couple of inches from the top, and scoop out the fluffy bits inside, which are inedible
- Remove the outer part of the stem and chop the stem so that you only have a couple of inched attached
- Rub the artichoke with lemon and set in the lemon water, while you clean the others
- Crush the garlic and mix with your herbs, salt and pepper
- Rub the herb mixture inside the artichoke
- Take a pan and put a little bit of oilive oil in
- Put in your artichokes, face down / stems up, making sure that they are as close to each other as possible and they cannot move.
- Add to spoonfuls of water, cover and cook for 20 mins or until the artichikes are tender. Add hot water as needed, if you see they get too dry while cooking.
- Serve as appetizer or side!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 97Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 219mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 7gSugar: 1gProtein: 4g
Please not: the nutritional value of this recipe are just an estimate and should be considered as a general indication only