One of the treats of autumn in northern California is that artichokes have a second season. Just as everything seems to be turning red and brown, we get a dose of green. And artichokes are one of our favorite vegetables, their nutty, earthy flavor is like nothing else. And while artichokes do often require some extra effort to prepare, we think the time is well worth it. And if you have small or “baby” artichokes, then the extra effort is definitely worth it.
Usually we get these small artichokes eary in the season, but you can sometimes find them all year. The advantage of the small artichokes is that you can trim the tops and then peel the outer leaves and eat the artichoke whole (mostly). With very small artichokes (the “babies), all you need to do is top them and pull away the dark outer leaves- the fuzzy/thorny “choke” will not have formed. If you have slightly larger artichokes, you will need to halve them and scoop out the choke with a spoon. This will take 5-10 minutes for a dozen small artichokes.
So what do we do with the artichokes? We like to deep fry them in olive oil (yum) or steam them with potatoes, but for a very quick and tasty dish we steam them with garlic and thyme and then sprinkle on some lemon juice and shaved parmesan. This recipe is a riff on an Alice Waters recipe, and she knows her veggies. We simply adjust the recipe for slightly larger artichokes (she can get whatever veggies she wants, sometimes we have to make do). We also add a dash of smoked paprika, the smokey notes work very well with the earthy artichokes. (We guess it is OK to add a dash of red to our green dishes.)
Making the dish is easy, the only issue is trimming and cleaning the artichokes. It takes less time than you think, but makes a mess. Prepare to have a large bag or bowl to collect the artichokes leaves. Otherwise you simply steam the artichokes for 10-15 minutes with water, olive oil, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Then uncover the artichokes and reduce the liquid for a sauce and finish cooking the artichokes, about another 5-10 minutes, or until soft. Put the artichokes on a platter, season, add some lemon juice, shave on some parmesan cheese and add the smoked paprika. What you get is a surprisingly rich, and tasty dish. The artichokes and parmesan are sweet and nutty, the thyme and garlic add depth and herbal notes and the acid from the lemon and smoky paprika accent the other flavors. Good stuff, and certainly worth the effort.
Artichokes With Garlic, Thyme And Parmesan:
(Adapted from Alice Waters)
Notes Before You Start:
- Use the smallest artichokes you can get, 1-3 inches long. Much larger than that, and you will want to cook the artichokes differently.
What You Get: A very tasty artichoke dish with more depth of flavor than you might expect.
What You Need: No special equipment required.
How Long? About 30-40 minutes, with 10-15 minutes of active time cleaning the artichokes. Anytime dish.
(Serves 4 as a side dish)
- 12 small (2-3 inch) or 24 “baby” (1-2 inch) artichokes
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 lemon
- Parmesan cheese
- Smoked paprika (or sweet paprika)
- Peel off the dark outer leaves of the artichokes and then trim off the tops and any thorny leaves. Trim the bottoms of the artichoke, leaving no more than half an inch of the stem. If using larger artichokes, cut them in half and scoop out the fuzzy “choke” with a spoon. Place the cut artichokes in a bowl with acidulated water (water with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar) to keep them from browning.
- Place a medium, lidded pot over medium heat. Add a cup of water, the olive oil, garlic, thyme and the artichokes to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, bring to a boil and lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, shake the pan every few minutes. Remove the lid and then cook until the liquid reduces (it will form a light sauce) and the artichokes are soft, another 5-10 minutes (longer times for larger artichokes).
- When done, pour the artichokes and the sauce onto a serving platter, remove the thyme sprigs. Season and then sprinkle with lemon juice and shave on the parmesan cheese. Add a pinch of smoked paprika, if you like. Serve.
- Carciofi in Padella Sauteed Artichokes (lasesana.wordpress.com)
- Artichoke Dip (fromnonawithlove.wordpress.com)
- Recipe: Easy Baked Artichoke “Fries” (goneminimalist.com)
- Stuffed Artichokes (canapesandchocolate.com)
- artichoke and white bean fusilli (inasmallkitchen.wordpress.com)
- Artichoke Dip (fromnonawithlove.com)