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The recipes of the artichoke alla romana (Roman style) and the artichoke alla giudia (Jewish style)

The artichoke for the Romans

It seems that in Rome, men give their girlfriends, wives and companions more artichokes than any other type of flower. It is undeniable that the Roman spring leads to a truly characteristic green and purple flower blossom in the fields and on the market stalls, that of the Roman artichoke (also called cimarolo or mammola). In about two months, especially between mid-March and mid-May, the consumption of artichokes increases exponentially and both restaurateurs and ordinary consumers compete to grab the largest, freshest and most tender artichokes.

Usually, these particular flowers come from the countryside north of Rome, between Civitavecchia and Ladispoli, where the soils are particularly rich in iron, an essential element for the growth of a good artichoke and a property much sought after by those who love it. But now all the flat areas of Lazio region, in particular those close to the sea, are fully suited and dedicated to this particular cultivation.

It is a matter of taste but above all a matter of culture, Cynara scolimus (scientific name of the artichoke) is in fact one of the most cultivated and consumed foods since the time of the ancient Romans. They are in fact cited by important Latin writers like Columella or Pliny the Elder, who praised them as one of the favorite foods in Latium.

Yet the artichoke is not only a symbol of Roman and Italian cuisine. It is widespread and also consumed throughout North Africa and the Middle East. In fact, Italian name carciofo derives from the Arabic term al-karshuf, already in use in the 4th century BC. It is not surprising that many tons of artichokes still arrive to the Italian markets from Egypt, which is the second largest producer in the world after Italy and before Spain.

The recipe of the artichoke alla romana and the artichoke alla giudia

And we come to our beloved recipes. There are dozens of ways to prepare artichokes. When used fresh, they can be quartered or sliced ​​and simply sautéed with oil, herbs, salt and pepper. They can be fried in batter or simply floured and passed in beaten egg. They can be steamed, you can prepare a light broth, you can make them stuffed, and so on and so forth. Yet if we were to ask which are the most loved and appreciated recipes, there would be no doubts about the answer: artichoke alla romana (Roman style) and artichoke alla giudia (Jewish style).

These are the two main recipes in Roman cuisine, one coming from the popular cuisine of the entire Roman territory, and the other born and spread specifically in the Jewish quarter of Rome (also called Ghetto), according to a well-rooted tradition handed down by Jews that since ancient times lived in the Eternal City. It is not surprising that, although both the Roman-style artichoke and Jewish-style artichoke are served in restaurants, trattorias and cafeterias throughout the Roman territory, in the streets of the Jewish quarter the artichoke alla giudia is undoubtedly the symbolic dish offered to customers. A bunch of large and plump artichokes are displayed in front of all the premises, as if to say: “Dear customer, if you enter here, you enter the kingdom of the artichoke and you cannot help but try it”. And we add … “You won’t regret it”.

Discover here all the history linked to these two typical recipes of Jewish and Roman cuisine.

How to prepare the artichoke alla giudia 

Ingredients for 3 people:

  • 3 large and fresh Roman artichokes
  • 1 litre of extra virgin olive oil (peanut oil or high oleic sunflower oil are also fine)
  • Parsley as required (the stems will be used to soak the artichokes)
  • Mint as required
  • Lemon zest as required
  • Water to soak the artichokes

Procedure for the preparation of the artichoke alla giudia:

  1. Clean the artichoke by removing the toughest purple leaves (petals) and the tips of the central leaves, shorten the stem and clean it, keeping it about 5-6 cm long. If possible, use a knife to remove the central fibres of the artichoke.
  2. Dip the artichokes in cold water in which we will have dipped the parsley stalks broken by hand and a few leaves of parsley itself. The artichoke will keep its color without oxidizing and without blackening. Alternatively, you can add the juice of half a lemon.
  3. Slightly open the artichoke, gently spreading the central leaves to make the flower open.
  4. Dry the artichoke well.
  5. Bring the oil to 140°C in a narrow and high saucepan and immerse the artichoke, letting it fry for about 8-10 minutes (depending on the size of the artichoke).
  6. After the first cooking phase, drain the artichoke and dry it on absorbent paper towels, in the meantime bring the oil to 160°C
  7. Dip the artichoke again in the oil at 160 ° C for about 2 minutes. The outer leaves will become crunchy. Drain the artichoke on absorbent paper.
  8. Serve the artichoke alla giudia hot and crunchy (it can also be served cold), we recommend garnishing it with chopped parsley and mint, lemon zest and a drizzle of raw extra virgin olive oil.

The Judeo-Roman cuisine is full of traditional dishes, find out here which typical dishes you absolutely must try! 

How to prepare Roman-style artichoke 

Ingredients for 3 people:

  • 3 large and fresh Roman artichokes
  • Mint as required
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil as required
  • Water and lemon juice to soak the artichokes

Procedure for preparing the Roman-style artichoke:

  1. Clean the artichoke by removing the toughest purple leaves and the tips of the central leaves, shorten the stem and clean it, keeping it about 5-6 cm long. If possible, use a knife to remove the central fibres of the artichoke. Attention, the remaining part of the stem, well cleaned, can be cut into small pieces and cooked together with the whole artichoke.
  2. Immerse the artichokes in cold water in which we will have squeezed the juice of half a lemon. Alternatively, if you don’t like the sour taste, you can simply dip some hand-chopped parsley into it. The artichoke will keep its color without oxidizing and without blackening.
  3. Slightly open the artichoke, gently spreading the central leaves to make the flower open.
  4. Dry the artichoke well.
  5. Chop the mint and the pieces of the artichoke stem and stuff the artichoke in the centre and between the petals with them, adding a pinch of salt.
  6. Heat a saucepan with plenty of oil and two cloves of garlic. Once the oil has heated up, place the artichokes upside down and the artichoke stems around them. Let it brown until the head of the artichoke is in contact with the saucepan and the oil is well caramelized
  7. Remove the garlic and add water until about one third of the artichoke is covered.
  8. Lower the heat, cover with a lid and cook for about 35-40 minutes.
  9. After the cooking time, when the water has evaporated and there’s an inviting sauce on the bottom, turn off the heat and move the artichokes onto a plate. Cover with the sauce and chopped mint.

Dear Insideater, here you can find the video recipe of both Roman-style artichoke and Jewish-style artichoke prepared by our chefs Vincenzo and Simone. 

Which recipe did you like most? We love both. 

Subscribe to the “iCuochi by Insideat” YouTube channel here to discover many other tasty Italian recipes! 

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