I never had an artichoke in my youth. Too rare, too fussy, too expensive for a family of 6.
In my adulthood, I will confess that although I have learned to appreciate the pleasure of the artichoke, I don’t often prepare them. They still seem a tad fussy, and what’s with needing to scoop out the choke part and discarding it? I dunno…I just moved on to other more instant-gratification veggies.
But I just got schooled by baby artichokes – Fiesole Baby Purple Artichokes, to be exact. Grown in Lompoc, California, this is a special, highly flavorful variety the size of a verrrry extra-large egg, and awash in a gorgeous purple. There is no hairy choke inside, so it is almost entirely edible, except for the stem and a few tough outer leaves. Sweeeet!
Recipe: Parmesan Garlic Roasted Baby Artichokes
Summary: Fiesole Baby Purple Artichokes — almost entirely edible, with no hairy choke — charm after a bath of garlicky olive oil and a blanket of Parmesan cheese. A quick broil, and the pleasures of the artichoke are all yours.
- 1 pound Fiesole Baby Purple Artichokes
- 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2-3 cloves crushed garlic
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- With a sharp knife, trim stems and tops off artichokes (about half an inch off the top), and peel away tough outer leaves, leaving just the soft inner leaves.
- Bring a shallow pot of water to a boil, insert a steamer tray, add trimmed artichokes, cover and steam for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat; remove chokes from pot onto a cutting board. Fire up the broiler.
- Slice each steamed choke in half vertically. Into a large mixing bowl place olive oil and garlic and whisk to combine. Add halved chokes and toss to coat them with garlicky oil. Using a tongs, place each half choke, cut side up, on a baking tray. Sprinkle each choke half with some grated Parmesan.
- Place tray under broiler and broil until bubbly and cheese is just starting to tinge light brown; this might take 3-5 minutes.
- Remove and serve!
- Serves 4.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Diet type: Vegetarian; Gluten free
Number of servings (yield): 4
Culinary tradition: USA (Nouveau)
Beginning now and continuing through May 6, there’s an Artichoke Festival in Southern California with Ralphs markets and Maria’s Italian Kitchen. You can buy these Baby Purple Artichokes and two other special varieties – all grown at Baroda Farms in Lompoc, Calif. – exclusively at Ralphs, and/or go to Maria’s Italian Kitchen, where they will be featured on the restaurant menu. (Maria’s has made a name for itself with stuffed artichokes. Try their recipe at home if you like!)
Artichoke samples were provided to me by Frieda’s Produce.