The trifolati technique is one we’ve seen before on this blog. And although it is probably most often associated with mushrooms, you can make many different non-leafy vegetables using the same basic technique: slice it and sauté it in garlic and oil, and season with salt, pepper and finely chopped parsley. That’s all there is to it. It’s just about the simplest way of preparing vegetable side dishes and, to my mind, one of the best, because it has a way of bringing out the natural flavor of your main ingredient so it really shines. Artichokes are particularly nice made this way and they make a perfect complement to roast lamb for Easter Sunday dinner.
Harder vegetables like artichokes can be made using the trifolati technique, but they need a bit of help in the form of a short braise in a covered pan with a bit of water or white wine to soften them up. But otherwise, the recipe is just the same:
Ingredients (to serve 4-5 as a side dish)
500g (1 lb.) of artichokes, trimmed and sliced into wedges (see Notes)
1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
Salt and pepper
A handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
Begin, as usual with a soffritto: sauté the garlic gently in a generous amount of olive oil until it just begins to brown.
Remove the garlic from the skillet and add your artichoke wedges. Increase the heat a bit and toss the artichokes in the seasoned oil for a few minutes without browning.
Add a splash of water (not a lot) and cover the skillet. Let the artichokes simmer until they are tender but not coming apart. Cooking time will vary according to the size, age and quality of your artichokes, and how thin your wedges are, but normally somewhere between 10-20 minutes will do.
Uncover the skillet, raise the heat, and season generously with salt and pepper, tossing the wedges to season them evenly. Then, at the last, add your parsley, give the skillet another toss, and serve immediately.
NOTES: The only real tricky part of this recipe is the trimming of the artichokes, which can take some time and skill—although it actually becomes quite easy once you get the hang of it. In the markets of Rome, friendly vendors will trim artichokes for you, but here in the States you’ll usually have to do this yourself.
The Italian way of trimming artichokes can be a bit surprising to the uninitiated, as you take so much off the vegetable. To some, it can seem like a ‘waste’. But the idea is to reduce the artichoke down to its edible parts, but you are still left with the tender inner leaves, so it’s not quite a matter of eating only the hearts. Here’s a good video tutorial featuring the genial Lidia Bastianich to show you how:
You can use any kind of artichoke for this dish. Obviously, large artichokes will take longer to cook than the smaller ones. The photo above shows smaller artichokes cut into quarters, but if you like you can cut them into eighths or, for large artichokes, even more finely.
Carciofi trifolati make for a superb contorno, but they also make a great filling for frittata and, if cut finely, can also be used to dress pasta.
As I’ve mentioned before, the same basic technique, when applied to leafy vegetables, takes on a name, either ripassati in padella or just in padella (in the skillet).
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