Tender, fleshy, slightly thorny and elongated, the Violet Artichoke of Sant’Erasmo has dark violet colored bracts, which enclose a heart with an unmistakable taste.
For centuries, in the Venice lagoon and in particular in Sant’Erasmo, but also in Vignole, Lio Piccolo, Malamocco, Mazzorbo, high-quality artichokes have been grown, the result of the work and tenacity of farmers, who despite market trends overall, they manage to preserve ancient flavors. This tradition remains above all in Sant’Erasmo, whose lands allow the cultivation of tasty vegetables including the violet artichoke which took its name from this island.
In Sant’Erasmo the first artichokes are harvested towards the beginning of April. These first artichokes are called “castraure”, that is the apical fruit of the artichoke plant that is cut first so as to allow the development of other 18-20 side artichokes (“botoli”), equally tender and tasty. The “castraure” are famous for their unique and particular taste, a very tender artichoke which is a set of flavors, with a slight bitter taste, which enhance its priceless organoleptic value.
The artichoke is a food rich in nutrients important for the human organism. In addition to the mineral salts, it contains a particular substance, “cinarin”, which is capable of promoting diuresis and regularization of the intestine. Also valuable in pharmacies, the artichoke is a product with a chemo-protective activity that promotes physiological functionality and the prevention of serious pathologies.
The “articiochi”, as artichokes in Venice are called, were introduced into Venetian cuisine by the Jewish community. They are mainly eaten raw and the “castraure” are a real delight available only for a short time: 10 – 15 days, no more.
The recipes based on artichoke are many: fried in batter, raw with a drizzle of olive oil, “col garbo”, that is cooked with the sauté of garlic or onion on a very low heat and covered pan, with the final addition of vinegar or lemon. Or “alla grega”: cut into wedges, browned and served cold with lemon, or marinated with “schie” (lagoon prawns), anchovies and sardines. In the Venetian taverns they are among the most renowned “ciccheti”, boiled and seasoned with garlic, parsley, pepper and oil.