I’ll admit, up until last week I was scared to tackle baby artichokes. They seemed so time consuming and complicated and I was certain I’d never get them to taste good. See, we have 4 or 5 massive artichoke plants that pop up every spring and have been largely decorative for the last few years for just this reason. That and also because they’re always full of earwigs and aphids and it seems like such a pain to clean them.
But I’ve been converted. And now I’m kicking myself for watching hundreds of baby artichokes sprout and flower and die on the plants over the last few years. WHAT WAS I THINKING????
Hopefully I can save the rest of you from making the same mistake. I’m telling you, these are divine.
Sauteed baby artichokes
from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, obviously
1 dozen smallish artichokes
1-2 tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme
sea salt and pepper
The only time consuming part of this recipe is the artichoke prep. But really, it’s not that bad. And once you get the hang of it, you’ll breeze right through. Before you start, fill a bowl with filtered water and juice from a few lemons. You’ll drop the prepped artichokes in the lemon water as you finish trimming them, in order to avoid browning before you cook them.
Step 1: cut the top third off of the artichoke.
Step 2: remove the tough outer leaves, until only the softer, pale yellow-green leaves are left. (You can reverse the first two steps, if you prefer). Then trim the stem and bottom of the artichoke.
Step 3: Cut the trimmed artichoke in half and then quarters.
Step 4: remove the fuzzy inner leaves, if there are any.
Repeat with all of your artichokes, dropping them into the lemon water as you go. When you finish trimming, you’re ready to cook them.
Heat 1/4 c of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet. Add artichokes, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for ten minutes, stirring often until the artichokes are nicely browned and cooked through. And then, behold: a true spring delicacy. The first time I made them, I had to hide them in order to keep myself from eating every last one within 5 minutes.
You can eat these alone, in salad, with cheese, on crusty bread, in pasta, on a sandwich, in an antipasti platter, etc etc etc. They are good no matter what. My mom actually makes them using a simple marinade from Annie Sommerville’s Fields of Greens (also a fantastic vegetarian cookbook), and hers are delicious too.
Don’t be scared. It’s easy, I promise.