One of the greatest things about Italy are the local “sagre” (singular – sagra). Sagre or food festivals are a staple of the regions of Italy with a strong farming culture. Italian sagre focus on ONE thing and every variation there of: fava beans, porchetta or mortadella to name some examples. Bigger, broader sagre happen too but the singular focus on one ingredient are my preference. Think the Gilroy, California garlic festival!
My hands down favorite is the sagra in the region of Marche dedicated to the artichoke!! In the little town of Filetto, Marche, each springtime you will find the Sagra del Carciofi Nostrano. It’s a celebration of all things artichoke including a wonderful sweet artichoke tart served for dessert.
In 2016 and in 2018, we made the pilgrimage to this wonderful festival with my cousin’s wife, Maria, her friend Simonetta and Simonetta’s daughter Giulia. We ate gnocchi with artichokes and clams, fried artichokes, artichoke lasagna and finally — wait for it – a sweet tart with artichokes!
We are fortunate in California to have access to great fresh artichokes! While big monster globe artichokes are the norm, you can find beautiful pointy purple artichokes more commonly used in Italy. These artichokes are in the market now in L.A. and boy, oh boy, do they taste great!
So enjoy this wonderful sweet artichoke tart for dessert!! It’s quite easy to make. These directions are very detailed but it goes very quickly. Enjoy the flavor of Springtime!Print
- Approximately 3 pounds baby artichokes (look for the elongated and pointy purplish ones) – or – one 12-oz bag of frozen artichoke hearts
- 2 lemons (1 reserved for the filling)
- 2 1/2 cups white cane sugar, divided
- 1 cup all-purpose flour plus extra for rolling the lattice
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick) at room temperature
- 2 eggs
- A pinch of salt
- 8 ounces fresh whole-milk ricotta
- Cut 1 lemon in half. Into a medium sized saucepan, juice the lemon and then add the lemon halves. Fill the pot halfway with water.
- Snap off the thick fibrous outside leaves of the artichokes until you reach the pale yellow inner leaves. With a bread knife, cut off the top 1/3 of the artichoke and trim the stems of any dried unattractive ends. Place in the lemon/water pot as you go–this keeps the artichokes from turning brown. Alternatively, add the frozen artichoke hearts to the pot.
- In the pot, add 1 cup of sugar and stir well to dissolve. Add more water if needed to cover the artichokes.
- Place the pot over high heat with the lid on and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and place the lid ajar. Simmer until the artichoke hearts are very tender, about 1 hour. Cool in the cooking liquid. Discard the lemon halves and drain the artichokes. Pick over them for any lemon seeds. Place in a container in the refrigerator until ready for use.
- Combine the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, butter, eggs and salt in a bowl. Blend using a hand-held pastry blender or a stand mixer until dough is formed. Avoid over-mixing. Use your hands to gather up the dough into a ball.
- Place the ball between two large sheets of wax paper and flatten into a disk with the palm of your hand. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- In a bowl, add the ricotta, 1 cup of sugar the grated skin of 1 lemon (use the juice of the lemon for another purpose). Whisk until well combined. Add the reserved artichoke hearts and stir to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Remove the dough in the wax paper from the fridge and place on a wooden board. Remove a golf ball-sized chunk of dough for the lattice and place back in the fridge.
- Quickly roll out the dough to slightly larger than the size of the tart pan (to a thickness slightly less than a ¼ -inch). Peel away one sheet of the wax paper and invert the dough on the tart pan.
- Gently press the dough into place patching up any holes. Tear away extra dough and reshape the circle to the shape of the tart pan.
- Pour the prepared artichoke-and-ricotta mixture to the tart pan, and smooth into corners.
- Sprinkle a little flour on the board. Remove the remaining dough from the fridge. Roll the dough on the board and cut into 1/2-inch strips with a pastry cutter. Create a “lattice” over the filling in the tart pan.
- Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned.
- Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely. Remove the tart from the pan, slice and serve.
- Hand-held pastry blender or stand mixer with paddle attachment
- Wax paper
- Tart pan with a removable bottom (I used a 9-inch square pan)
- Rolling pin and wooden rolling surface
- Pastry cutter