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Artichoke Velouté

  • 50 minutes
  • Easy
  • First Courses
A light dish that brings out the delicate flavor of artichokes.

Ingredients: Per 4 servings

  • 8 artichokes
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 8 cups broth
  • 3 tablespoons rice starch
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • salt to taste

Preparation:

Remove the tough, outside leaves from the artichokes. Cut artichokes in half, lengthwise, and cut out the chokes. Quarter the half artichokes and transfer them to a bowl of water and lemon juice so that they don’t brown.

Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the butter and, as soon as it melts, add the rice starch. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes.

Then, drain artichokes and add them to the pan. Also add vegetable broth. Cook for 25 minutes, then remove from the heat. Puree the pan contents, then adjust the salt. Pass the puree through a sieve.

To finish the dish, add the egg yolks and Parmigiano to the artichoke puree. Stir with a wooden spoon to melt everything. Serve hot with croutons and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Food History

Artichokes are one of the most common plants growing along the Mediterranean coast. There are records stating that both the Etruscans and Egyptians cultivated artichokes centuries ago even though it seems like all the great Mediterranean civilizations grew and loved this spiny vegetable.
The Greeks, for example, believed artichokes had a divine origin, while the Romans, who ate artichokes with honey, vinegar and cumin, believed that they were an aphrodisiac – probably due to their suggestive shape.
At the beginning of the Middle Ages, the food culture of northern Europe began to spread with artichokes almost disappeared entirely. Arabs reintroduced them to Sicily and then they spread to the rest of the world.
Catherine de’ Medici, who became the Queen of France after marrying Henry II, was responsible for introducing artichokes to the French. In fact, Louis XIV, the Sun King, consumed large quantities of artichokes, in hopes that they would work as an aphrodisiac. 
Artichokes did not arrive in the United States until the 19th century, but became very popular, very quickly. During the first decades of the 20th century, the mafia boss, Ciro Terranova, called Whitey, was in charge of trafficking artichokes. The business was so lucrative and important to the mafia that the then mayor of New York, Fiorello La Guardia, declared selling or housing artichokes illegal, even though he loved to eat them himself.

Did you know that...

In Castroville, the self-proclaimed World Capital of Artichokes, each year the townspeople elect an Artichoke Queen during the Artichoke Festival, which has been going on since 1949?

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