Artichokes in Citrus Sauce (Carciofi ai 4 Succhi)
This recipe combines some of the best and most typically Mediterranean ingredients - artichokes, oranges, lemons, capers, olive oil.
Artichokes pair really well with citrus fruits and it's a common combination in many recipes from across Southern Italy, Greece, Spain, North Africa and beyond. In this traditional Sicilian recipe we combine 4 juices (3 citrus fruits + vinegar) - hence the name "carciofi ai 4 succhi" (lit. 4-juices artichokes).
For my 4 juices I used navel orange, tangerine orange, lemon and apple cider vinegar. Some people replace tangerine with clementine as they are equally sweet. Some use white wine vinegar. Any option works. The important part is that you let the finely sliced onions caramelise in olive oil and these juices, and cook the artichoke hearts slowly, finally adding capers and sugar to complete the sweet-and-sour flavour.
The combination of sweet and sour is something that characterises Sicilian cuisine, something we probably inherited from the Arabs (who introduced the use of pomegranate molasses, dates, raisins and honey in our cuisine), and is found in many of our most iconic dished - think for example our Caponata, or our Zucca in Agrodolce (sweet-and-sour pumpkin).
So, without further ado, let's get cooking!
Ingredients (for 2)
400g fresh artichoke hearts (already cleaned), cut into quarters
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for sautéing, plus 2 more to drizzle on top
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 navel orange, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
1 tangerine, juiced
4-5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp capers in brine, rinsed
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
a handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the 4 juices and set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a heavy-bottom pan and add the onion. Sauté until it starts to brown. then add the artichokes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the 4 juices and let the artichokes cook at a medium-low flame, covered for about 15 minutes or until the onion starts to caramelise and the artichokes are fork-tender.
Lastly, add the capers, sugar, mix well and sauté for another 2 minutes or so. Transfer to a plate and top with the remaining olive oil and fresh parsley before serving.
They taste great at room temperature so you can make them in advance.