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A purple artichoke, meaty and tender: the pleasure of all pleasures to be savored raw

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing argued that “the expectation of pleasure is the pleasure itself”.

The castraura (the first artichoke to appear) is cut in advance to allow the plant to develop other 18-20 artichokes called botoli, delicious but not as prestigious as their brother. They grow a little all over the lagoon (Vignole, Lio Piccolo, Malamocco, Mazzorbo), but the best come along with the island of St. Erasmus, the old orchard of Venice, whose vegetables are fed in part by a sandy soil, chalky in part, represent the best that you can enjoy every morning at the Rialto market.


Already at the end of the seventeenth century, as well as the website informs us of the merit of violet artichoke Sant'Erasmo Consortium, an association of 10 farms that protect and promote the Slow Food, the famous cartographer Vincenzo Maria Coronelli Franciscan spoke enthusiastically of this long island 4 km wide and 500 to 900 meters, "between the barrier islands which make the Lagoon of Venice, is one of Sant'Erasmo  with beautiful gardens and vineyards, from 'which is given to the Metropolis amount of vegetables and fruits perfect ... ".
The visitor will be surprised by the scents, the silences, the order of the crops, that same "perfection" sung by Coronelli, still very enjoyable for the price of a ticket, by boat.


 Returning to our artichokes, they are beautiful in every preparation: their slight bitter scent can enhance an omelet, a risotto. Fried ones are great as long as you lick your fingers. But raw, cut very thin, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper are the delight of delights. Leaving aside the pleasure of waiting.

Violet Artichoke Risotto


4 servings


6 violet artichokes

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

1 cup Arborio rice

1/2 cup white wine

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or water)

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup quality Parmesan cheese, grated


  1. Cut most of the stalk off the artichokes, leaving about 1”. Peel the outer leaves until you come to the white base. Cut off the purple tips and thinly slice the remaining pieces.
  1. Place the olive oil in a medium-sized stockpot over medium heat. When hot, add the garlic and onion and sauté for a few minutes. Add the sliced artichokes. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Salt.
  1. Add the rice and stir until thoroughly coated in oil. Turn down the heat to medium-low. Add the white wine and let absorb.
  1. Add stock slowly, one cup at a time. Stir frequently while cooking. The amount of liquid will vary– it’s not an exact measurement. You’re looking for the risotto to be creamy and the rice somewhat firm. Salt more if necessary.
  1. Remove from heat and add the butter and cheese. Stir thoroughly. Serve hot, garnishing with extra cheese and chopped parsley if you like.