Artichokes or “Carciofi” are a very popular and extremely loved vegetable in Italy , they are cooked in many exquisite ways and I find they are full of flavour..definitely one of my favourite vegetables. The first weekend of December, from Friday 3rd December to Sunday 5th December is the turn of the the artichoke festival, or better “la Sagra del carciofo e la Fiera agroalimentare del Medio Campidano”. The festival is organized by the Pro Loco (a sort of tourist information office) of Samassi, a small town 40 km from Cagliari. These last years the “sagra” has become a joint event alongside the food and agricultural fair of the Medio Campidano, an area in Sardinia’s south west which you can see highlighted in the picture below.
Artichokes are the number one leaders of the Samassi agriculture, here two kinds are grown, the “Spinoso Sardo” which has small thorns and the “Masedu”, without thorns. At the fair/festival in Samassi there will be conferences delineating crucial themes of the island’s agriculture, as well as an assortment of stands where one can taste the products of the “Campidanese” tradition and savour some lovely artichoke recipes. On the Sunday a well known race takes place, the “Marcialonga del carciofo”, it is at a national scale and anyone can take part as it is both competitive and non competitive.
Whilst in Samassi, the beautiful Medieval church of Santu Milla is definitely worth visiting, it’s the town’s most important historical feature. The village is also known for its “case in terra cruda” , houses built with bricks of mud and hay which were left to dry in the sun. This building method characterised the island until the second world war, many villages were distinguished by the ochre and beige colours of these mud houses, though now can be seen only amongst the remaining few.
Carciofi alla moda di Teresa
This is a recipe combining artichokes with sausage meat, wine and herbs…full of flavour and again a comfort for these cold winter months.
8 artichokes ,
2 tablespoons tomato puree
50 gr. Minced meat or sausage meat
50 gr. Extra virgin olive oil
a bunch of parsley
a garlic clove
a glass of white wine
a pinch of origano
a handful of capers
Chop the onion and the garlic and brown in an earthenware pan, meanwhile clean the artichokes leaving a few centimetres of stalk (the rest you can chop into squares) eliminate all the tough outer leaves and the thorns, cut into halves and eliminate the fuzz inside the hearts. Add the artichokes to the onion and garlic, turn up the heat and allow to cook for 10 minutes, salt, pour the glass of white wine and leave to evaporate. Dissolve the tomato puree in half a glass of warm water, when the wine has evaporated pour the tomato onto the artichokes and leave to cook for another few minutes. Then add the minced meat, chopped parsley, capers and origano, mix all ingredients carefully with a wooden spoon and cover with a lid and leave to simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes. The artichokes need to cook in very little liquid. When ready (you will realise this when the artichokes have turned soft) before serving pour the squeezed lemon juice. This dish can be eaten on its own as a main dish and is excellent placed on a thick slice of roasted bread, otherwise can be served as a side dish with roasted meat. A drop of extra virgin olive oil is the absolutely perfect final touch.