Friday, May 1, 2009

Braised Baby Artichokes

Artichokes are definitely at the top of my list of favorite vegetables. If I see them listed on the menu at a restaurant, I inevitably order that dish.

There is an artichoke dip from Costco that I love. It's creamy and spicy and full of chunky artichokes. But I have a problem. I can't bring myself to buy pre-made or pre-prepped dishes. This causes me to miss out on artichoke deliciousness quite often because sometimes (a lot of the time) I'm too lazy to go through all of the prep of making an artichoke completely edible.

A colleague used to laugh at me because I would ask her to bring the Costco artichoke dip to our potlucks. I'm totally fine with and will happily eat whatever anyone else makes or brings, but I could not use canned or frozen artichokes, or even worse, buy a pre-made dish. Hence my conundrum...

Actually, prepping artichokes isn't all that bad. And if you use baby artichokes, there isn't even a choke to clean out! Baby artichokes refer to the size of the artichokes not the age. The babies grow at the bottom of the artichoke plant and never fully develop.

First, cut off the top half of the artichoke. Then peel back all of the dark green leaves until you get to the pale yellow leaves. Try to leave the meaty bottom of the leaves attached to the artichoke. Next, use a vegetable peeler to peel the stem and all of the green areas off of the artichoke. Cut the chokes in half and place in a bowl of water with the juice of 1 lemon.

Once the prep is done, this dish is a cinch to make. Saute some chopped garlic and a few thyme sprigs briefly in some olive oil. Add the artichokes with a some of their lemon water and simmer until al dente. Then the artichokes are removed and the juices are concentrated and poured back over the artichokes. You end up with a richly flavored lemony broth.

I served these as a side to a roasted chicken and creamy polenta. But they were just as good, if not better, eaten straight from the bowl with my fingers while the bird was cooking.

Braised Baby Artichokes
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

24 baby artichokes trimmed
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 thyme sprigs
2 strips lemon zest
2 garlic cloves slivered
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon chopped thyme or parsley
Salt and Pepper

Drop the finished artichokes into a bowl with the lemon juice and water to cover.

Warm half of the oil with the lemon zest in a medium sate pan with a tight fitting lid. Add the artichokes with 2 1/2 cups of the lemon water, 1/2 teaspoon last, garlic an d bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer until the artichokes are tend, 15-20 minutes. Scoop them into a bowl, then reduce the remaining liquid until about 1/2 cup remains. Pour it over the artichoke and drizzle the remaining oil over the top. Garnish with a little pepper and the chopped herb.

Serves 4


  1. Mmmm.... hi friends! I love you, baby artichokes!

    Ann and I had baby artichokes at Corso last night. They were mmmm.....

  2. Now I am BIT better at preparing those deliciously tricky globes I really should try my skills out on some of the tiny baby ones which catch my eye at the market - then do this with them.
    I made your pea soup by the way - it was just lovely.

  3. Rachel,
    Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad you liked the soup:)