baby artichokes, i win

baby artichokes

aren’t they cute?  they look so innocent.  you can almost hear them whisper: hello.  i’m small, adorable and green.  take me home and turn me into something yummy!

devious little buggers.

first few times i tried to make some magic with baby artichokes, i just couldn’t get it right.  and to be honest, the problem was me.

a confession – i hate kitchen waste.  i hate, for example, peeling a watermelon and feeling like half the watermelon is still attached to the rind.

i had to do breathing exercises to get through my knife skills class because to make those exquisite, perfect, 2 in by 1/4 in by 1/4 carrot batons or petit brunoise potato dice, you leave most of the vegetable behind.

control issues?  what do you mean control issues?

anyway.  you have to let that go with the baby artichokes.  check this out.

artichoke carnage

i don’t know if you can tell, but the pile of discarded baby artichoke leaves DWARFS the tender, pale green hearts.

but friends, you must be ruthless.  if you don’t, your baby artichokes will end up woody.  inedible.  they will mock you from under their yummy, tangy, lemony glaze.

if you truly can leave no artichoke leaf behind, go find yourself one of those jumbo dudes.  i’ll even share my momma’s top secret artichoke cooking technique.

are you ready? 

wrap in plastic wrap and nuke it until it’s tender.  try not to think about whatever it is that’s leeching into your food fromthe plastic.  melt some butter (also feel free to nuke that).  good to go.  is there anything better? 

did i hear you say aioli?  yeah, that works.  or mayo, on a spoon from the jar.  no biggie.

anyway, back to our petit artichauts.  now that you’ve gone and really stripped them down, you’re ready to introduce them to their friends lemon, garlic, white wine, and thyme. 

they’re going to get along swimmingly.

sauteing artichokes

let me tell you, these were some tasty artichokes.  they were tender and sweet.  the dressing was a wonderful balance of acid and tart and savory herbally goodness. 

but, jeez louise, they just aren’t as adorable as they were at the start, right?

bowl of artichokes

this leads me to lesson number two today.  i didn’t get my artichokes soaking in lemon water quite soon enough, and the artichokes went from green to . . . a, uh, slightly less appetizing tan color.

the irony – and i may need an english teacher here to tell me if this is real irony or alanis morissette irony – it was my endless futzing with them for photographs that kept them from the lemon bath they needed to look good in the photographs. 

the somm feels their pain, let me tell you. 

so, don’t be like me.  strip your artichokes, soak your artichokes, serve them to the ones you love.

Artichoke Antipasto

Not at all adapted from David Tanis’ Heart of the Artichoke, unless you count my smart-ass, alcoholic asides.  Original recipe here, buy the book here.

  • 10 to 12 baby artichokes
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • Olive oil
  • 1/3 cupish white wine
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 small garlic cloves, chopped
  • Small pinch red pepper flakes
  • Parsley to taste

Open the bottle of wine, pour yourself a glass.  Quality control.

Fill a bowl with water and squeeze in the lemon juice.  Don’t be shy.

Tell the baby artichokes their time has come.  One at a time, chop off about the top third of each artichoke, or maybe a little less.  Pull off the hard green outer leaves until just the tender lighter green leaves are left.  Slice them in half, lengthwise, and add them to the lemon water.  Immediately.

Heat your (non-cast iron) skillet and add olive oil and let it get warm.  Drain the artichokes and add them to the pan with some salt and pepper.  Then add the wine and thyme and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are tender when you test them with a fork, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes (to taste!), and cook for a minute or so until the garlic starts to smell and loses that raw garlic bite.

Take the pan off the heat, add the lemon zest and parsley.  I don’t think I added the parsley.  I’m not a huge fan, plus my little plant hasn’t been doing so well, and I honestly just never really remember to garnish.  But, by all means.  Arugula would also probably work here.

David Tanis says you can let them cool to room temperature to serve as a part of an antipasto platter.  They didn’t really last that long for us.  Nom.

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