The One Veggie Giada De Laurentiis Always Eats In Rome

Considering that Rome is the city of Giada De Laurentiis' birth, it should come as little surprise that the celebrated chef knows the best way to eat around the city. Most of her tips involve hearty and rich dishes, from suppli (a little like arancini) and meaty porchetta to good old-fashioned gelato for dessert.

For something a little lighter, De Laurentiis also has her picks: In a recent tweet, she highlighted fried or poached artichokes as "a must" eat veggie when visiting the Italian capital. Artichokes are technically part of a flower, meaning some may disagree with calling them a vegetable, but in the food world, they're generally regarded as part of that family.

In particular, De Laurentiis recommends tasting two specific dishes, both of which are considered staples of seasonal Roman cuisine: carciofi alla Romana and carciofi alla giudia ("carciofi" is the Italian word for artichoke). The former dish is poached, while the latter is crisp-fried, "like a chip," notes De Laurentiis. She doesn't recommend one over the other, instead dubbing them both as "divine."

The differences between Giada's favorite artichoke dishes

It's clear Giada De Laurentiis loves artichokes, with equal adoration given to two different preparation styles. Carciofi alla giudia (as pictured here) may sometimes be referred to as Jewish-style fried artichokes (an approximate English translation of the dish name). It originates from the Roman-Jewish community, who lived in Italy's capital from the 16th to 19th centuries.

The recipe for carciofi alla giudia is quite simple: Artichokes are seasoned with salt and pepper and deep-fried in olive oil until they're golden brown. Then a little more salt and some lemon juice are added, and that's about it.

Carciofi alla Romana, or Roman-style artichokes are also pretty simple, but the recipe adds in some white wine, herbs, and garlic. In Rome, the main herb is the mint-adjacent mentuccia, but recipes in English will tend to recommend mint itself, and sometimes oregano and parsley to round it out. The artichoke is then stuffed with or marinated in the herbs and garlic, before being poached in white wine and olive oil on the stovetop until tender.

It's also common to find other artichoke-focused dishes like pastas in Rome that feature this iconic piece of Italian greenery.

Artichokes are best when in season

There's one small catch to Giada De Laurentiis' artichoke picks: She recommends getting them when they're in season. Broadly speaking, artichoke season spans from the start of winter until the middle of spring. But for the best experience, consider waiting until February through April. In Rome, for example, this is when artichokes can be sourced in abundance; there's even an artichoke festival, the Sagra del Artichoke Romanesco, held just outside the city in April.

Also in Rome, there exists a special variety of artichoke, the carciofi romaneschi, that's cultivated in the area around the city. Unlike other artichoke varieties with inedible centers, with this one, almost the whole vegetable can be cooked and eaten.

If you happen to visit Italy outside of artichoke season, they may have vanished off many menus. While it's still possible to find them at some restaurants (particularly in more touristy parts of Rome), be warned that you may be getting served imported or frozen artichokes, and you can generally expect lower quality.