This humble dish from the Roman Jewish quarter is one of the most simple but also one of the most delicious. I use a double-fry technique, first at a lower temperature to cook the artichokes, then at a higher temperature to make them crisp. Serve them very plain with a wedge of lemon and a sprinkling of sea salt but, if you like, a little mayonnaise wouldn’t go amiss.
Recipes & food styling Ginny Grant / Photography Aaron McLean
These artichokes are delicious with toasted almonds, grissini, prosciutto and salami.
New-season lamb is delicious with these artichokes, but if I were serving to vegetarians I’d use vegetable stock and be inclined to add some sliced mozzarella to the pan as it came out the oven, allowing the flavours to meld for a few minutes.
This basic preparation of artichokes is one of my favourites and it is especially good if you have only a few artichokes. You can bulk it out with pancetta or bacon, or cook with other spring vegetables such as asparagus, peas or broad beans. Without the mascarpone you could use the basic mix to put into a frittata or omelette, a potato gratin or risotto.
Make 1 quantity of basic pastry, adding 2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme leaves to the mix. Prepare and blind bake as above.
While it's easy to use bought pastry, it is really not very tricky to make yourself. I usually turn to this quick shortcrust pastry; adding hard herbs such as rosemary or thyme or spices like smoked paprika, nutmeg and mixed spice can also add a little interest. If I’m making a sweet pastry I add a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar to the mix and I might add some flavourings such as cocoa, cinnamon, orange or lemon zest or some vanilla.
I prefer to use a food processor to blend the butter with the flour, then once I’ve added the liquid and the mix is starting to clump I’ll bring the dough together on a bench. It is important to chill the dough once it has been made so the gluten in the flour can relax – which means that the dough won’t shrink in the tin. I also chill it again after I’ve put it into a tart tin (or I may freeze it at this point) to blind bake from frozen.
I often keep a batch of this strained stock in the freezer – by adding fresh ingredients each time and enough water to bring the stock up to 3 litres, the flavour becomes more nuanced.