Carciofi alla parmigiana (Artichoke Parmesan)

Frankantipasti, contorno28 Comments

Carciofi alla parmigiana (Artichoke Parmesan)

Everyone who knows about the Italian food has surely had parmigiana di melanzane, or Eggplant Parmesan. And it’s a dish that’s particularly dear to my heart. It was one of Angelina’s signature dishes and may be my single favorite thing to eat.

But did you know that a parmigiana can be made with vegetables other than eggplant? We’ve already featured a lovely version with zucchini, perfect for the summer, but now that spring is upon us and artichokes are back into season, I’d invite you to try carciofi alla parmigiana, or Artichoke Parmesan.

You proceed just as you would with eggplant: fry artichoke wedges, dusted with flour and bathed in egg, then layer them in a baking dish with mozzarella, grated parmigiano-reggiano and a simple tomato sauce. Then bake until bubbly and golden brown on top.

Carciofi alla parmigiana may not ever replace Angelina’s classic in my heart, but it’s really very appealing indeed. And like the original, it’s perfectly delicious, perhaps even better, at room temperature or gently reheated the next day, which makes it a great make-ahead dish.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

For the artichokes:

  • 1 kilo (2 lbs) artichokes, preferably of the “baby” variety
  • 3-4 eggs, beaten
  • Flour, q.b.
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 whole lemon
  • Olive oil for frying

For the tomato sauce:

  • 1-2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 100 g (3-12 oz) prosciutto, finely chopped
  • 1 large jar tomato passata, or 1 large can of tomatoes, milled
  • Salt
  • A basil leaf or two (optional)

To assemble and bake:

  • 1 ball of mozzarella, sliced
  • Parmigiano-reggiano, freshly grated, q.b.

Directions

Step 1: Trim and fry the artichokes:

Trim the artichokes of its outer leaves and (if using larger artichokes) their fibrous cores (often called the “choke”), rubbing them all over with a halved lemon as you go. See this post for details.

Parboil the artichokes in salted water for just 3 minutes or so, then drain them and let them cool.

Cut the artichokes into thin wedges, tossing the wedges as you cut them immediately into a large bowl of water, which you will have acidulated with the lemon you used for rubbing the artichokes.

Drain and pat the artichoke wedges perfectly dry. Toss them in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, then immerse them into the beaten egg.

Shallow fry the artichoke wedges in olive oil over moderate heat, until they are golden brown on all sides. Make sure to space the wedges so they brown well; proceed in batches if you need to. Drain the fried wedges on paper towels as soon as they’re done. Set aside.

Step 2: Make the tomato sauce

Sauté the shallot and minced prosciutto in olive oil in a saucepan over gentle heat, until the shallot is perfectly tender. Add the tomato, along with a good pinch of salt, and raise the heat slightly so that the tomato simmers gently. Continue simmering until you have a nice sauce-y consistency. If using the basil, add it a few minutes before the sauce is done. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Step 3: Assemble and bake the dish

Take a baking dish (or individual dishes as pictured, if you prefer). Line the bottom with a thin coating of the sauce, then arrange a single layer of artichoke wedges. Top with a few slices of mozzarella, nap them with the sauce, then sprinkle generously with the grated cheese.

Repeat until you’ve used up all your ingredients, finishing by napping the last layer of artichoke with the sauce, then a generous sprinkling of grated cheese. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

Bake the dish(es) in a hot (200C/400F) oven for a good 20-30 minutes, until the dish is piping hot and golden brown on top.

Let cool for at least a few minutes before serving. Carciofi alla parmigiana are at their best just slightly warm or at room temperature.

Carciofi alla parmigiana (Artichoke Parmesan)
Yes it was a little overdone on top due to an ill-time Zoom call…

Notes on Carciofi alla parmigiana

As I’ve written about before, frozen artichokes hearts can be a god-send and they work perfectly well in this recipe. Just parboil them still frozen and proceed from there. Saves the work of trimming and the taste, especially after they’re subject to this fairly elaborate treatment, is fine.

The sauce, as mentioned in the recipe, should be ‘sauce-y’ but don’t reduce it as much as you would if you were dressing a pasta. Bear in mind that the sauce will cook—and reduce—further in the oven.

As in the case of Eggplant Parmesan, you can, if you’d like a slightly lighter version of Artichoke Parmesan, dispense with the egg and simply lightly flour the artichoke wedges. The mozzarella is also optional and, again, omitting it will lighten the dish. Personally I prefer both, weight loss be damned!

But your choice may depend on how you want to serve your Artichoke Parmesan. Like a classic parmigiana made with eggplant, this dish can play many roles in an Italian meal. It can serve as an antipasto, as part of a buffet, as a light secondo or even as a piatto unico: a single-dish meal in itself. 

If you want to stay vegetarian, you can, of course, use a meatless tomato sauce, just as you would for a classic parmigiana, I do think a little although the cured pork marries wonderfully with the artichokes. If you prefer, you can use pancetta or guanciale instead of prosciutto.

And finally, be aware that like a classic parmigiana, carciofi alla parmigiana are even better if it has time to settle and reheated. This is not a dish to be eaten piping hot.

Carciofi alla parmigiana

Artichoke Parmesan
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Antipasto, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Campania, Italian
Keyword: baked, fried, vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo 2 lbs artichokes preferably of the "baby" variety
  • 3-4 3-4 eggs beaten
  • Flour q.b.
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 whole lemon
  • Olive oil for frying

For the tomato sauce:

  • 1-2 1-2 shallots finely chopped
  • 100g 3-1/2 oz prosciutto finely chopped
  • 1 large jar tomato passata, or 1 large can of tomatoes, milled
  • Salt
  • A basil leaf or two optional

To assemble and bake the dish:

  • 1 ball of mozzarella sliced
  • freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese q.b.

Instructions

Step 1: Fry the Artichokes

  • Trim the artichokes of its outer leaves and (if using larger artichokes) their fibrous cores (often called the "choke"), rubbing them all over with a halved lemon as you go.
  • Parboil the artichokes in salted water for just 3 minutes or so, then drain them and let them cool.
  • Cut the artichokes into thin wedges, tossing the wedges as you cut them immediately into a large bowl of water, which you will have acidulated with the lemon you used for rubbing the artichokes.
  • Drain and pat the artichoke wedges perfectly dry. Toss them in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, then immerse them into the beaten egg.
  • Shallow fry the artichoke wedges in olive oil over moderate heat, until they are golden brown on all sides. Make sure to space the wedges so they brown well; proceed in batches if you need to. Drain the fried wedges on paper towels as soon as they're done. Set aside.

Make the tomato sauce

  • Sauté the shallot and minced prosciutto in olive oil in a saucepan over gentle heat, until the shallot is perfectly tender. Add the tomato, along with a good pinch of salt, and raise the heat slightly so that the tomato simmers gently. Continue simmering until you have a nice sauce-y but still fairly loose consistency. If using the basil, add it a few minutes before the sauce is done. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Assemble and bake the dish

  • Take a baking dish (or individual dishes as pictured, if you prefer). Line the bottom with a thin coating of the sauce, then arrange a single layer of artichoke wedges. Top with a few slices of mozzarella, nap them with the sauce, then sprinkle generously with the grated cheese.
  • Repeat until you've used up all your ingredients, finishing by napping the last layer of artichoke with the sauce, then a generous sprinkling of grated cheese. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
  • Bake the dish(es) in a hot (200C/400F) oven for a good 20-30 minutes, until the dish is piping hot and golden brown on top.
  • Let cool for at least a few minutes before serving. Carciofi alla parmigiana are at their best just slightly warm or at room temperature.

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28 Comments on “Carciofi alla parmigiana (Artichoke Parmesan)”

    1. Well, the thing is, most artichokes in oil have been brined beforehand so they’re too acidic for this dish. But if you can find artichokes that haven’t been brined but, say, grilled or just plain boiled, then I’d say go for it.

  1. Parmigiana with home made tomato sauce is staple at our home but I never made this version. Must do this season. Thank you so much and I wish you enjoy your week end !

  2. I have to say that I don’t often have artichokes at home. This gives me plenty of reason to have them, though! I’m especally interested in what you do with the lemon – rubbing on the artichoke pieces, and then using it in the water. Anyway, this sounds delicious!

    1. Waste not, want not, Jeff! I always try to get the most use out of my ingredients. Comes from being the child of Depression era parents, I suspect… Do hope you give this a try. I think you’d like it!

  3. Frank, I’m with you as Eggplant Parmesan is likely my favorite Italian dish. But I’ve not tried the artichoke version, it sounds amazing. We very rarely see fresh artichoke, but I can get frozen. Frying is something in my past, but I’m going to try this using oven baked method (like I use for Eggplant Parmesan) for the fried artichokes. Great recipe thanks for sharing…

  4. Ah, my mind is blown here, Frank! Artichoke parm? That sounds amazing! I have so many thoughts here – (1) what a great dish for this time of the year when artichokes are available. I’ll have to watch for baby ‘chokes in the store now so I can make this! (2) The prosciutto in the sauce. Genius! Great recipe, my friend. Thanks for introducing me to this one!

  5. We were just chatting about the beloved eggplant parmigiana last night, but this recipe with artichoke sounds even more incredible! We just love the tang of artichokes, I’m going to have to work this into my menu plan this week.

  6. Well I have a five month wait ere I can see how small a variety of artichokes I can find to try your simple but appetizing offering. Am also one forever preparing the eggplant variety ! Love the experience of simply boiling the big ones, sitting a long time around the table with friends and making a glorious mess picking one leaf off after the other to give one;s teeth a ‘workout’ getting at the flavour . . .

  7. I must admit I have never heard of artichoke parmigiana before and this recipe is impressive. I like the addition of the prosciutto. I have only had artichokes stuffed and stewed like my mom makes them but this recipe makes me want to experiment more with artichokes. Thanks for enlightening me Frank!

  8. I’m with Mimi, this looks fabulous. I have 3 artichoke plants which I hope I won’t kill this year (somehow, they don’t like me nearly as much as I like them)!!

  9. I’ll eat anything that’s prepared alla parmigiana. Well, I think I will, at least — I imagine I’d turn up my nose at those things that I don’t like all on their own. 🙂 Anyway, this looks terrific and I have some frozen artichoke hearts just longing for a home in a tasty dish. This looks like the one! Thanks.

  10. I can’t wait till I see baby artichokes in the store — this sounds fantastic, Frank. I had never heard of it, though I have heard of and made many other dishes alla parmigiana… Like you, I am sure the eggplant will remain my number one favorite, but this could come close.

  11. Wow this looks incredible. I think I’d actually prefer it over the eggplant version. Now, to find baby artichokes, which I’ve never ever seen in all of Oklahoma.

    1. Well, if you can’t find them, no worries. The recipe will work with regular artichokes, too. It’s a bit more work trimming and slicing…

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