I couldn’t resist these baby artichokes at the farmers market last week. It was my first batch of the season. These petite flowers with purple ruffled leaves were not only stunning, but delicious.
We had a simple easy dinner of spaghetti aglio e olio, grilled asparagus, and these marinated artichokes. It was an easy, elegant spring time meal — oh, and my husband didn’t even realize he was enjoying a vegetarian dinner!
This recipe was posted last year on my blog, but I had to share it again. If you happen to stumble upon some of these beautiful babies, I want to make sure you’re ready to enjoy the taste of spring.
Marinated Baby Artichokes
Adapted from David Tanis: The Heart of an Artichoke
Serves 12 appetizer portions
3 pounds baby artichokes, about 2 dozen
Zest of one lemon
3-4 lemons—two for the lemon-water bath, and one for zest and flavor
Juice of 1 large lemon or two small, plus 1 for finishing
1/2 cup olive oil
6 ounces white wine (and be sure to pour a little for the chef!)
3 -4 sprigs of thyme
4 small garlic cloves, chopped
Good pinch of red pepper flakes
Laurel leaves (optional)
Chopped parsley (bunch)
Note: Though I do grow artichokes in my garden, I didn’t have 3 pounds of them for this recipe. Our Santa Barbara farmers market has a wonderful seller who specializes in asparagus, regular sized artichokes, and these delightful purple babies. She is usually toward lower State at the Tuesday afternoon market.
To prepare the baby artichokes, peel the stem ends with a paring knife, remove a few outer leaves to reveal the pale green centers, and cut off the tops (I found that the red artichokes are a little tougher, so if you use them, you might need to remove a few more of the outer layers).
Cut the prepared artichokes in half and place them in a bowl of cool water with the juice of 2 lemons. The acidity of the lemon in the water will keep the ends from turning black, and you can store the artichokes in this bath at room temperature while you prep the other parts of your meal. You can also do this a day before you plan to serve, keeping the bowl in your fridge over night.
To cook the chokes, heat the olive oil in a large skillet (not cast iron). Drain the artichokes from their lemony water bath. Add them to the pan and season well with salt and pepper. Then, add the wine, thyme and fresh laurel (if using). Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are tender when you test them with a fork about 10 – 20 minutes.
Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, stir and cook for a minute. Off the heat, stir in the lemon zest and chopped parsley. Transfer the artichokes to a low, wide serving dish and let cool to room temp.
When the artichokes are cool, taste for salt and lemon juice. Add juice from your third lemon if necessary. Because fresh baby artichokes can be sweet, they need salt and acidity to balance the flavor. Cover and leave at room temp for up to several hours until ready to serve.