The artichokes commonly consumed on our tables is only the bud or flower head of the plant, the heart of which is by far the most tender part: this is precisely why we use it to prepare our Artichoke Hearts in Oil and our Artichoke Spread.
To make this spread at home, after a first step soaking the artichokes in water made acidic with vinegar or lemon to prevent them from turning dark, you need to blanch the artichoke hearts for a few minutes and sauté them in a pan drizzled with oil and a hint of garlic. Use the blender to obtain a smooth, creamy puree to which you will need to gradually add a drizzle of our Extra Virgin Olive Oil to help you achieve the desired consistency. For a stronger taste, add capers, parsley and a few mint leaves to the blender. Generally speaking, a cream diluted with a little cooking water is best for dressing pasta, while to enjoy it on crostini or boiled eggs as an alternative to mayonnaise, it's best to leave it thicker.
Whichever pairing you choose, the secret to a velvety smooth cream is to clean the artichokes very well, stripping them of the leathery outer parts. Also remove the inner choke, tops, and stem (except the part near the base).
Types of artichokes: which are the most common?
There are different types of artichokes on the market, which differ for the presence of thorns (thorny or without), shape of the head (round or elongated), color (green, white, or purple), and seasonality (fall or spring). The most famous varieties grown in Italy are:
- Sicilian violet artichoke: those from Niscemi, in the province of Caltanissetta, are famous. It is an elongated variety with a cup-shaped flower head and typical purple bracts.
- Romanesco artichoke: this type is thornless and has a sweet flavor. It is better known as "mammola" in Italy, and has large, round flower heads.
- Sardinian thorny artichoke: easily recognized by the presence of yellow thorns in the bracts. It has an elongated conical flower head and is moderately compact.
Artichoke Spread: how to use it and what to pair it with for a tasty dish?
You don't have to be a master chef to make artichoke spread recipes. All it takes is a little inventiveness and you're done, not least because the delicate flavor of this condiment lends itself to accompanying a wide variety of dishes.
Let’s take a look at some truly delicious dishes made with Artichoke Spread and see what to pair it with and how to use it:
- Pasta with Artichoke Spread
- Lasagne with Artichoke Spread
- Risotto with Artichoke Spread
Pasta with Artichoke Spread
This is a recipe that will save you those evenings when you want to put something tasty and flavorful on the table, but are short on time. Choose your favorite type of pasta, from paccheri to linguine to fusilli, and boil it in salted water. Set a few ladles of the cooking water aside to thin the Artichoke Spread. After draining the pasta, mix it with the resulting puree and add some confit cherry tomatoes and two leaves of fresh basil. If you’d also like to try a more sophisticated variation, you can check out the recipe for Pasta with Artichoke Spread and Shrimp.
Lasagne with Artichoke Spread