Well, looking at the calendar, Spring should be in the air. I'm not really feeling it since I am looking out the window of my office and see the falling snow, threatening to cover the little plots of grass that just recently made an appearance thanks to a couple of warm, sunny days. But somewhere in the world, and definitely in Italy, it is springtime. Which can only mean one thing: artichokes (carciofi in Italian)! Last week I went to lunch with two awesome women who love Italy as much as I do (maybe more!). For the past five years they have taken a spring trip to Italy, renting an apartment in Rome and really taking in the Italian lifestyle. As we noshed on Italian food, we talked about Italian food. They listed off the things they were looking forward to eating and drinking. I must say, I was jealous. And then the topic of artichokes came up and I swear that I saw them both swoon. With good reason. Springtime is artichoke time and you have not lived until you have had them in Rome. You can find them in virtually every dish: risotto, pasta with artichokes, ravioli stuffed with artichoke and cheese, boiled and drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with mint and lemon. And then, the queen of the carciofi, the Jewish artichoke. These are prepared in the simplest of ways, trimmed to the tender part of the vegetable, fried in olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon. I could make a meal of them, along with some prosciutto, crusty bread and a glass of Frascati. Here is a great step by step recipe.
I would be remiss if I did not also mention that springtime is also the time for fresh peas. But I hate them. And I especially hate how they get added to pasta, risotto and even arancini (rice balls) in the sneakiest of ways. Try as you might, you won't convert me. So if you are looking for a recipe that includes peas, you are going to have to find one yourself. Feel free to share it in the comments below. I know my readers would thank you!