You would be surprised at how many different versions of this dish appear not only in the Italian-Jewish cooking repertoire, but in Sephardic and Moroccan Jewish cooking as well. In the Moroccan version, ample garlic is used and the onions are seasoned with coriander, sweet paprika and cayenne. In Greek and Turkish versions, the artichokes are made sweet and sour with lemon juice and a pinch of sugar, and a little saffron is added, too.
The Italian-Jewish version is a bit more subdued. The onions are sauteed in olive oil, then sliced artichokes are added, some diced tomatoes and occasionally, a little chopped mint or parsley. Since Passover is a spring holiday, it is not unusual to find this classic pairing of fish and springtime's tender artichokes on the celebratory table. Sometimes fennel and cardoons are used in place of artichokes. Serve with roasted potatoes or rice.
- 4 fish fillets such as salmon or sea bass, about 6 ounces each
- Kosher salt to taste
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 large or 8 medium-sized artichokes
- About 8 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed
- 2 onions, sliced
- 1 cup peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Chopped fresh mint or flat-leaf parsley for garnish (optional)
Sprinkle the fish fillets with kosher salt and refrigerate until needed.
Have ready a large bowl of water to which you have added the lemon juice. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, remove all the leaves until you reach the pale green heart. Pare away the dark green area from the base and any tender stem. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the choke from each half. Then cut each half length wise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Drop into the lemon water.
Warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Drain the artichokes, reserving some of the lemon water. Add the artichoke slices to the pan and saute until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add a little of the lemon water to cook the artichokes uncovered until almost completely tender, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate.
Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to the same pan and return to medium heat. Add the onions and saute until tender and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and return the artichokes to the pan. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
In a large, wide saucepan over medium heat, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the fish fillets and saute, turning once, for a minute or two on each side. Top with the artichoke mixture, cover the pan, and braise until the fish is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle generously with parsley or mint, if desired.
VARIATIONS: Put the fish in a baking dish, top with artichokes, cover the dish, and bake in an oven preheated to 400 degrees F, until the fillets are tender, about 10 minutes. Or, if you are feeling adventurous, omit the tomatoes, add the grated zest of 1 orange and 1 large lemon to the onions while cooking, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Garnish the dish with orange segments and chopped fresh mint or parsley.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Chronicle. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
596 calories; 38g total fat; 94mg cholesterol; 1396mg sodium; 27g carbohydrates; 10g fiber; 40g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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