artichoke with farro

As a kid, the only green vegetable I willingly let into my mouth without making faces and disgusting noises was the artichoke. Knowing what I know now about the seasonality and regionality of food, I’m pretty impressed that my mother was able to get her hands on artichokes in Minnesota all those years ago. As a born and bred Californian, my mother loved artichokes just as much as we did. That said, I think she was motivated to stop the retchings, gaggings, and death rattles at the dinner table more than anything else.

I grew up scraping my eager teeth across the “strip the leaves and dip them in hot melted butter” globe variety, and it wasn’t until I moved out to California that I really had any experience with delectable baby artichokes. These little suckers are now in season, but if you don’t know how to strip and cook them, they can end up tough and bitter.

baby artichoke whole
You want the leaves to be tightly closed. The more open the leaves are, the more likely they are to have a choke.

peel artichoke stem outer skin
The stems of artichokes are just as delicious as the artichokes themselves, but the tougher outer skin should be stripped down. Using a very sharp paring knife, carefully peel off the layer.

artichoke clean stem
This is what a clean stem looks like.

peel artichoke outer leaves
Snap off all the outer leaves until you get down to the tender pale green/yellow leaves.

cut artichoke in half lengthwise
Trim off the top of the leaves and cut the artichoke in half lengthwise.

toss artichokes in acidulated water
Because artichokes start to brown (oxidize) the moment you cut them, toss them in a bowl of acidulated water. That is, water that has lemon juice squeezed into it.

Sauteed Spring Artichokes

Serves 2 as a side dish

Ingredients:
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Spring onions, thinly sliced
1 lb baby artichokes
1/4 cup water
Juice from 1/4 lemon
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:
1. Heat the oil in a high-sided saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, raise the heat to medium-high, and sauté the onions for about 2-3 minutes.

2. Add the artichokes, stirring to coat with the olive oil. Splash in the water and lemon juice and cover the pan. Stirring every so often, simmer until the base of the artichokes are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Serving Ideas:
You can serve these artichokes as a side dish just as they are or with a little Fiore Sardo grated on top, but I also like to combine them with farro and snipped chives, with pasta, or with roasted potatoes.

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