Sunday, May 5, 2013

Small Artichokes with Rosemary & Garlic

These little artichokes are really wonderful. Making them
yourself is so much better than the mushy artichoke hearts you get in jars or at a deli. They are great on steak or fish. Try other herbs too. Tarragon, thyme and savory will also work well.
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2 pounds small artichokes (about 16, sliced and cooked)
2-4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 T. extra virgin olive oil (use the good stuff here!)
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary       
1 pinch red pepper flakes or cayenne
2-3 T. water
Salt to taste
½ Lemon cut in half
Lemon juice (fresh) to taste

Prepare the artichokes:
Hold the artichoke in your left hand, tips of the leaves pointed away from you. With your right index finger (right thumb will be on the stem of the choke) push a leaf or two down, like you were pressing a button. Pinch and pull away the leaves. Keep turning and peeling away leaves until you see tender yellowish inner leaves. This technique will save you from getting poked with the sharp quills that are sometimes on the end of the leaves. Only remove a couple of layers of leaves. Peel all of them before proceeding to the next step.
Next, trim the stem off the choke and neatly trim around its base. Then cut about one inch off the opposite end. Place the trimmed choke into a small bowl of acidulated water (add a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice.) When all have been trimmed, place the flat side down and slice each choke into 4-5 thin pieces. Return to the bowl of water.
To Assemble:
In a medium saucepan, add 2 T of olive oil over medium
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heat. Add the sliced garlic for about 10-20 seconds. As it begins to sizzle add the pepper flakes. Immediately drain the chokes and add them to the pan. You don't want the pepper flakes or garlic to burn. Add a healthy squeeze of lemon juice, the quartered piece of lemon and 2 T. of water. Add 1 tsp. of the chopped rosemary and a generous sprinkling of kosher or sea salt. Cover and lower heat to your lowest setting. Set timer for 10 minutes. Check for doneness at that time. If the artichoke slices are still firm add another tablespoon of water, replace cover and cook for about 3-5 minutes longer.

When chokes are done remove from heat and take the cover off the pan. Transfer to a serving bowl. If you are using this over fish I suggest making them a little soupy. Add 2 additional tablespoons of olive oil and a fresh pinch or two of chopped rosemary. Correct the seasoning with salt and lemon juice. Make them just a little tart.

If you like you can chop the artichokes fine and smear them on sliced croutons or grilled bread. Adding a little grated Parmesan cheese to the mix makes a delicious artichoke spread.

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