Because it is spring, I bought four artichokes, when I food shopped at the Park Slope Food Coop this past Thursday....
So spring foods, peas in the pod, spring garlic, ramps, asparagus, rhubarb (oh yeah), and artichokes. Arty-chokes. If geese are a gaggle, are a group of artichokes a heart, a heart of artichokes? I heart artichokes for sure, I heart arty-chokes. Lets cook us a heart of artichokes today. Spring is for silliness, love, and artichokes.
There is nothing simpler than boiling a big pot of water, throwing in some salt and cooking your trimmed artichokes. Alternatively, you could steam them. But I find I often cook down all the water while steaming, and my pot starts to burn. I used to put a dollop of olive oil in the pot of boiling water, but have since stopped that practice. I do not think it adds to the flavor, and just adds a big oil slick to the artichokes and to the cooking pot, leaving you with a mess to clean up.
If you are not going to cook your trimmed artichokes right away, rub them with a half of lemon, or add some lemon to a bowl of cold water and keep the trimmed artichokes in the bowl. The acid of the lemon in the water will keep the artichokes from turning brown.
This is not the artichoke of your childhood....
Remember those old school Italian restaurants where a stuffed artichoke was always listed as an appetizer on the menu? Well, they don't call it old school for nothing. Lets do away with the sausage stuffing, or the breadcrumb stuffing slathered in butter, and any other fattening unhealthy thing they might stuff between the artichokes' beautiful leaves. The simple artichoke is a new age, healthy way to eat this vegetable, which is botanically, a flower, but "classified as a vegetable by the way it is consumed." The artichoke in the nude, so to speak, or the classic artichoke is the direct opposite of the old school stuffed artichoke. Tis a gift to be simple, right on.
Trimming your artichokes....
Before trimming the globe artichokes, fill a large pot with water and set it on the stove to come to a rolling boil. Pull off the smaller and tougher leaves close to the stem. Cut the top end of the artichoke off. Cut the ends of the remaining leaves about ⅜ths of an inch down or so, to remove the thorny ends of the leaves. Cut the end of the stem off, and peel the rest of the stem. You are now ready to cook your artichokes. Add some salt to your pot of water and then the artichokes. Lower the heat down a bit from the rolling boil, but do keep it at a boil.
In our house, we generally like to dip the cooked leaves into a bit of vinaigrette before eating them. And for those of you who have never eaten an artichoke yet, you kind of rake it between your teeth to get the bit of cooked artichoke from the part of each leaf closest to the stem. When all the leaves are gone, you need to clean out the choke from the inside, located at the top of the artichoke. Then you are left with the best parts, the heart of the artichoke and the stem. Enjoy!
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 3 to 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
Pour the red wine vinegar into a small bowl. Add the salt and ground pepper. Stir to dissolve the salt, taste and adjust. Use a fork or small whisk to beat in, a little at a time, the olive oil. "Taste as you go and stop when it tastes right."
Add a little pureed garlic or diced shallot, or both to the vinegar
White wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or lemon juice can replace some or all of the red wine vinegar.
Beat in a little mustard before you start adding the oil.
For part of the olive oil, substitute a very fresh nut oil, such as walnut or hazelnut.
Heavy cream or creme fraiche can replace some or all of the olive oil.
Chop some fresh herbs and stir them into the finished vinaigrette.