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Garnished artichokes from Empoli in creamy tarts

  • Ingredients:
    5 large artichokes (from Empoli)
    1 juicy lemon
    2 peeled garlic cloves
    3-4 spoons Tuscan extra vergine olive oil
    1 pinch of rock salt
  • For the garnish:
    1 of the whole artichokes and the stems of the other fou
    30 grams of butter
    a pinch of dried mint leaves
    a bunch of parsley (8-10 sprigs)
    2 peeled garlic cloves
    1 spoon of vegetable extract granules
    a pinch of salt
    a hearty grind of pepper
  • For the tarts:
    4 whole eggs + two yolks
    4 spoons of grated parmesan cheese
    4 spoons of full cream milk
    5-6 sage leaves (plus a further 8-10 for decoration)
    2 spoons of Tuscan extra virgin olive oil
Remove the external hard dark leaves and the spiny upper part from the 4 artichokes. Remove the stems cutting them close to the core (clean well) so that each artichoke can stand evenly upright during cooking and on the plate; Once they are clean and prepared put them in fresh water with lemon juice. Peel the remaining stems to remove the hard fibres and put into the lemon water.
Having done this take a pan with 1 litre of water, the garlic, the oil and the salt as indicated put in the artichokes and the stems and bring to the boil over a low hear uncovered and boil for 12-15 minutes (or until tender), leave the artichokes and stems to drain upside down on a kitchen surface, and prepare the garnish.
Take one of the boiled artichokes and the 5 stems and put in blender with all the ingredients indicated for the garnish and add spoons of hot cooking water as necessary, blend well until you reach a dense smooth puré perfectly homogenised; keep hot to one side.
Prepare the tart
In a small bowl beat well the whole eggs with a pinch of salt, the parmesan and black pepper until you have a frothy well homogenised compound. In the blender put the two yolks with the milk, the sage and a pinch of salt, blend in short spurts until you have another composition very runny, well amalgamated and perfectly homogenous; keep this also to one side until needed.
Returning to the artichokes, put the 4 well drained artichokes upright on a plate adapted for oven or microwave use and cover them each with 2 spoons of the pureed garnish.
To finish. take a small pan (if possible non stick) and with ½ spoon of oil put ¼ of the egg and cheese compost over a medium heat without stirring but removing it continuously from heat so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan allow to cook for 2-3 minutes then add, over that which has by now become an omelette, ¼ of the other blend of eggs, milk and sage. Cover until it has rapidly set a little (but it must remain creamy) for about 1 minute, then remover from the heat and allow the "tart" to slip directly on the serving plate. Decorate the centre with 2 or 3 sage leaves and place 1 boiling hot artichoke (reheated in the oven or microwave) over them and it is ready. Quickly repeat the operation three more times and send them to table as an antipasto.

A Giuseppe Alessi recipe
Translated by Gianna Toni
Picture by Carlo Santoni

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