After waiting months and months for the prehistoric thistles to produce fruit, our purple artichokes of Romagna are finally in full bloom. When we harvested our first artichokes for dinner, we swore they were the best we had ever tasted! Yet another vegetable I’ll never buy from the store again or want to order at a restaurant!
The purple of Romagna artichoke is round, flavorful, and grows well in warm Mediterranean climates. We planted our seeds in the beginning of summer and watched the plants grow for about eight months before noticing the spectacular young purple artichokes nestled inside layers of towering leaves. The plants are enormous; averaging about four feet in height, with giant leaves panning out to five feet in diameter.
Some artichoke plants do not produce fruit their first year. They go through the growth process, but need to be pruned back and repeat the cycle a second year before producing. This was my first time growing artichokes, and since it was taking so long, I thought we’d have to wait another year. But lo and behold, one day we found a bud, then another, and another. Of the three varieties we are growing, the Purple of Romagna were the first to fruit. We nurtured these thistly giants with fish emulsion fertilizer and stayed on top of aphid infestations with Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile soap and occasional hose offs.
The taste is slightly floral and sweet and the leaves are super tender when steam cooked. Hold the mayonnaise! All you need is a salted butter and fresh garlic concoction for dipping. The artichoke hearts are intensely flavorful and savory- they must be an aphrodisiac!