I vaguely remember my first bite of broccoli – sometime in the 60’s. And I definitely remember my first avocado (California, Feb., 1970……in a salad of carrots, dandelion greens, tomatoes, bottled Italian dressing and Kretschmer toasted wheat germ……wow). So it seems that, not having been raised on them, my first artichoke memory would stick out in high relief. But it doesn’t answer the call, however much I persist. Perhaps because I’ve had so many of them by now, it feels like I’ve been eating them forever.
In the early days, I would give them way too much attention, clipping each petal into manicured detail. I’ve let go of that. I no longer stuff them either. My standard now is simply to poach them in a seasoned broth, halve and roast them, and then serve them with a garlicky yogurt dip. Great as an appetizer for a dinner party: the physicality of eating artichokes seems to encourage conviviality. They’re also good at rounding out a modest supper of soup and salad.
RECIPE: Poaching Liquid for Artichokes
Say, for 4 to 5 smallish, or 2 to 3 large:
Bring to a boil 3 to 5 litres of water, to which has been added:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
a dozen peppercorns
2 bay leaves
a squeezed wedge of lemon
and a sliced clove of garlic
Then immerse the well washed artichokes whose stem ends have been trimmed. Turn them over in the bubbling bath, ensuring that they are well dunked, as they will tend to bob on the surface, trying not to get their faces wet. Turn the heat way down, cover, and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and let drain; cool long enough to handle. Cut into halves. Place cut side down in a baking dish and roast at about 375 degrees for 10 min. (This can be done in a toaster oven.) Serve with dip.
The quantities here are just a guideline for you to play with. Try using way more lemon or garlic. If you don’t have time to do the roasting, then just poach them for 20 min. and serve whole. Or you could poach them one day and roast them the next. Also, be careful not to overdo the poaching. But the roasting time can be extended to good effect.
One more thing:
This is for you health nuts. Artichoke architecture inclines itself to trap and hold substances. Maybe that’s fine. But maybe not. As in the case of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides. If they aren’t organic you still might be in luck. The brand ‘Ocean Mist’ is often available in Toronto. This California company practices Integrated Pest Management and independent third-party testing has found its produce to have very low levels of residue.
Locally grown artichokes are available here in Ontario later in the summer, and often they are organic.
RECIPE: Garlicky Dip for Artichokes
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2/3 c. yogurt
1 lge. Clove garlic, finely minced
2 tsp Maille Provencale Mustard
Whisk all together. Re: the mustard. This is a key ingredient. It contains sweet red peppers and will taunt the unsuspecting (what is that flavor?!) The right amount is really ‘to taste’ and getting it just right probably won’t happen on the first try. It wants enough of the red pepper without too much of the mustard. I guess I could just use some pureed roasted red peppers and maybe I’ll play with that in the future. For now, this is simpler. I’ve learned to gauge the balance visually: it should be the palest of pale terra cotta. And then I taste it to be sure.
This dip is great on sandwiches and in wraps. It’s also good with other vegetables, e.g., asparagus, cauliflower, celery.
Keeps very well, refrigerated.