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IMG_5913I loooooooove artichokes.  Growing up, my Italian family members made them for most family gatherings – steamed and stuffed with garlic, seasonings, breadcrumbs and Parmesan.  I have a kind of mushed memory where every occasion looks the same as we sat around the table pulling them apart, scraping the flesh and stuffing off of the leaves with out teeth whilst making fun of each other.

Years ago a lovely Roman waiter delivered an artichoke to my table that I didn’t order. No no no, he said – I know you didn’t order it, but is so good, you just have to try it, no charge, from the chef.  This small experience was apparently a watershed moment in the way that I viewed food, because 10 years later I still remember exactly how everything around me looked, and the exquisitely delicious simplicity of the most fantastic artichoke I have ever tasted to this day.  Thank you chef and waiter – since then I’ve become borderline obsessed with finding other ways to cook them. Unfortunately here in the States we do not have the luxury of several varieties to choose from, but nevertheless, the possibilities remain extensive.

Here is an easy and addictive appetizer or side:

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artichokes hearts – you can prepare them yourself fresh, or take the easy (and less expensive) cheater route of buying them frozen.  Usually, I prefer fresh everything.  But I like frozen artichokes because you can get them any time of year, and more importantly, they are not stored in brine, which I think ruins their flavor.  The pictures here are frozen artichoke hearts from Wegmans.

all purpose flour
salt & pepper
good quality olive oil

IMG_5907Toss your artichokes with some flour and salt & pepper.  You can add anything else you like as well – pepper flakes, parsley, garlic, etc.

Heat about a 1/4 inch of olive oil in a large skillet.  Don’t turn it up to high, you don’t need the heat and you want to keep the oil from smoking.

Add your artichokes and fry until golden on one side, then toss with a spatula and allow time for another side to brown.  Serve immediately.

Sprinkle them with salt and drizzle with lemon juice.  Yum.