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Sicilian Fried Artichoke Hearts

Fried artichoke hearts are an easy appetizer, great snack, or side dish. In our Sicilian version, we coat the artichoke hearts in a batter seasoned with parmesan cheese, parsley, and mint called pastella. The batter puffs up while cooking and becomes a tasty tender coating that compliments the tangy artichokes.

A plate of fried artichokes surrounded by a gray stripped dish towel/
Fried Artichokes

Artichokes are a popular vegetable in all of Italy, especially in Sicily where according to the Best of Sicily they are believed to have originated and now grow wild along the countryside. They are naturally a big part of Sicilian cuisine since they are harvested in both the spring and fall seasons.  Now that frozen and canned artichoke hearts are readily available it is easy to enjoy this delicious vegetable year-round. And the best thing is that you don’t have to trim artichokes!

Fried artichokes in pastella are a staple on the St. Joseph’s Day table or as part of a Lenten meal, along with other traditional dishes such as Pasta con le Sarde and Sfingi.  They are also often served as a delicious appetizer during holiday gatherings.  

There are a number of fried artichoke recipes enjoyed by Italians, such as breaded artichoke hearts and carciofi alla guidia, but this Sicilian pastella recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare them. The pastella is simply an Italian batter that is used primarily for frying vegetables. And the good news is that there is no messy breading station!

As with many Italian recipes, different regions have their own versions. This recipe reflects the traditional recipe that my Nonna and mother brought to the US from our small town of Valledolmo, Sicily.  

Ingredients to make pastella.
Ingredients

Ingredients

  • Artichoke hearts – Canned or frozen artichokes are ready to use and do not need to be cooked before dipping them in the pastellla and frying them.  Just thaw, drain, and quarter them (if using whole artichoke hearts) and you are ready to go.  Fresh artichokes will need to be trimmed and boiled until they are tender.
  • Eggs – beaten
  • Milk – milk of any fat content can be used
  • Grated Parmesan cheese – You can substitute Pecorino Romano or use a blend of the two.
  • Baking powder – This acts as a leavening agent and makes the batter fluffy.
  • Parsley – Fresh chopped parsley adds a bit of brightness to the batter.
  • Mint – We like to use dried mint because it has a stronger flavor but feel free to use fresh and add a little extra.
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • Vegetable oil for pan frying
4 photos of quartered artichoke hearts on a plate, a batter in a bowl with beaters above the bowl, the batter poured over the artichoke quarters and two pieces of the batter coated artichokes being fried in a pan.

How to Make Fried Artichoke Hearts

  1. Drain the Artichoke hearts and set aside. Mix the flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, and sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Make the pastella in a large bowl. Beat the eggs for 1 minute.  Add the milk to the beaten egg, and continue to beat for an additional minute. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture into the egg mixture, beat until combined then mix in 1/3 of the flour and the parmesan.  Add the remaining flour, parsley, and mint and beat for another minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl often.
  3. Place half of the artichokes on a plate and spoon enough pastella over them to completely cover them. 
  4. Set a skillet over medium-high heat and add enough oil to shallow fry the artichokes. When the oil is hot, Use a large spoon to transfer one pastella-covered artichoke at a time to the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes in a skillet of hot oil or until the pastella is golden brown, then turn it over and cook an additional minute or two. Repeat the process with the remaining artichokes.  Cooking time will depend on how hot your oil is.  Serve warm or at room temperature with a lemon wedge.

Variations and Tips:

  • Drain the artichokes and dry them off with paper towels to remove any excess liquid.  This will help the batter adhere to them while frying.
  • If the artichokes are getting dark quickly, turn the heat down a bit.
  • Substitute your favorite vegetable. Broccoli, cardoons, zucchini, eggplant, and cauliflower are popular vegetables cooked in pastella.  
  • Harder vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower will need to be cooked to a tender texture before coating in the pastella. The pastella will cook quickly and some raw vegetables will not have enough time to cook through.
  • Fry up the leftover pastella as little pancakes. Delicious!
A plate of battered and fried artichokes with one cut down the middle to show the sectioned artichoke.

​How do you Serve Fried Artichoke Hearts?

My favorite way to eat these fried artichoke hearts is to simply snack on them as they are or with a squeeze of lemon juice.  They also make a great appetizer served with garlic aioli or your favorite dipping sauce.  

Fried artichoke hearts are often served as a side dish, especially during Lent. But they are so easy to make that you can make them part of your dinner menu any time of the year. Another easy side dish perfect for any time of the year are my Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli.

FAQ

How are these Sicilian fried artichokes different then other fried artichoke recipes?

This Sicilian fried artichoke recipe uses a pastella batter, which is a delicate doughy coating for vegetables. It is thicker and has a softer more tender texture than tempura or batters you may use on fish or other southern fried foods. It does not result in crispy artichokes like you might get with a coating made of bread crumbs.  It also cooks up very quickly, so the vegetables, or in this case, artichoke hearts, need to be cooked before coating them in the batter.

What type of oil should you use to fry the artichoke hearts?

Vegetable oil is my go-to oil for frying.  It is a great all-purpose oil that has a high smoke point so it can be used to cook at temperatures as high as 400 – 450 degrees before it starts to burn.  It also has a neutral flavor so it won’t change the flavor of your food.  You can use olive oil as well, but it has a slightly lower smoke point than vegetable oil.

How do you store leftover fried artichokes?

Any leftover fried artichokes can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for 3-4 days.  You can also freeze them in a freezer bag for up to 2 months.

Can you reheat leftover fried artichoke hearts?

Yes.  It is best to reheat them in the oven.  Place the artichoke hearts on a baking sheet and spread them apart.  Heat them in a 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Check them at the halfway mark and turn them over.  This will cause any moisture to evaporate and the fried artichokes be just as good as when you first made them. For best results, when reheating frozen fried artichokes you should let them defrost first.

I love to get your feedback so if you tried this Fried Artichoke Hearts recipe or any other recipes on this website, please leave me a comment below.  I hope you enjoy our recipes and look forward to hearing from you!

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A plate of battered and fried artichokes with one cut down the middle to show the sectioned artichoke.

Fried Artichoke Hearts

Artichoke hearts are coated in a thick batter seasoned with parmesan cheese, parsley and mint and then pan fried to a golden perfection. In Sicily this is often served as part of a meatless meal such as a St. Joseph's day feast or during Lent.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 20 pieces
Calories 46 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 28 oz Artichoke Hearts canned, quartered, drained
  • 4 Eggs
  • ½ cup Milk
  • cup Flour
  • 4 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese grated
  • ½ tsp Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ½ tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Parsley chopped
  • ½ tsp Mint dried
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions
 

  • Drain the Artichoke hearts and set aside.
  • Mix together the flour, salt, pepper, baking powder and sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs for 1 minute. Add the milk to the eggs and continue to beat for an additional minute.
  • Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the eggs and beat until combined.
  • Beat in 1/3 of the flour and the parmesan and mix until completely combined.
  • Add the remaining flour, parsley and mint and beat for another minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl often.
  • Heat oil in a large frying pan set over medium heat.
  • Place half of the artichokes in on a plate and spoon enough pastella over them to completely cover them.
  • Using a large spoon, transfer one pastella covered artichoke at a time to the hot oil. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the pastella is golden brown, then turn it over and cook an additional minute or 2. Repeat the process with the remaining artichokes.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

Variations and Tips:

  • Drain the artichokes and dry them off with paper towels to remove any excess liquid.  This will help the batter adhere to them while frying.
  • Cooking time will depend on how hot your oil is.  If the artichokes are getting dark quickly, turn the heat down a bit.
  • Substitute your favorite vegetable. Broccoli, cardoons, zucchini, eggplant, and cauliflower are popular vegetables cooked in pastella.  
  • Harder vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower will need to be cooked to a tender texture before coating in the pastella. The pastella will cook quickly and some raw vegetables will not have enough time to cook through.
  • Fry up the leftover pastella as little pancakes. Delicious!

​How do you serve Fried Artichoke Hearts?

My favorite way to eat these fried artichoke hearts is to simply snack on them as they are or with a squeeze of lemon juice.  They also make a great appetizer served with garlic aioli or your favorite dipping sauce.  Fried artichoke hearts are often served as a side dish, especially during Lent. But they are so easy to make that you can make them part of your dinner menu any time of the year.

Nutrition

Serving: 20piecesCalories: 46kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 2gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 142mgPotassium: 30mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 74IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 19mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Artichokes, parmesan cheese, mint, batter, meatless, Lent, St. Joseph’s day, Fried vegetables, Italian
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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