Carciofi ritti (named for the way they are cooking “standing up”) are plump, melting, whole stuffed artichokes, cooked in a simple Tuscan manner until you can cut them like butter. It's the sort of dish you'll find at the height of artichoke season in the most Florentine of trattorie. They make a very good side dish to accompany a roast but are equally good on their own as a light meal with some good bread and extra virgin olive oil. This is an edited extract from Florentine by Emiko Davies (Hardie Grant Books). —Emiko
4 as a side dish
lemon, cut in half
whole, fresh artichokes
extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3
pancetta slices, chopped
garlic clove, finely chopped
french shallot or small onion, finely chopped
handful of celery leaves, finely chopped
(150 ml) white wine (or water or vegetable stock)
Prepare a bowl of cold water with half a lemon squeezed into it—this is to make sure the artichokes don't blacken from oxidation. Clean the artichokes by trimming them of the stem (keep these aside and finely chop) so that you have a completely flat bottom that the artichoke can 'sit' on. Remove the hard, outer leaves until you arrive at a layer of tender leaves, pale in color.
Chop the top half of the artichoke off completely and with a teaspoon remove the fluffy inside, if present (if it’s a younger, tender artichoke there may not be any need to do this). Rub the cut part of the artichoke with half a lemon and place in the bowl of lemon water.
In a pan over medium-low heat, gently cook the pancetta, garlic, shallot, and celery leaves, along with the reserved stems of the artichokes, chopped finely, in olive oil until the vegetables are soft, not colored, and the fat of the pancetta has melted.
Tease open the leaves of the artichokes from the center. Arrange the artichokes, cut side up, in an appropriately-sized pan so they are sitting tightly together, if possible. Spoon the pancetta filling over the center of each artichoke and pour some white wine into the pan to arrive about halfway up the artichokes. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, over low heat for about 30 minutes or until the artichokes are soft—test by poking a knife into the side, it should slide in easily.
Serve with some freshly chopped parsley scattered over the top.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.