Food for Thought with Suzanne Dunaway
I am a fool for artichokes and cannot wait for spring to produce the lovely violettes here in the PO. I have noticed, too, that the artichokes in my open market in Rome often are labeled ‘France’!
The trick to preparing artichokes is to put them in the fridge for a few hours first and the leaves will snap off sweetly as you take the outer leaves off down to the pale green/yellow of the tender part of the chokes.
If the artichokes are very fresh, I pare the stems and chop them up to cook with the main body, but if they are tough, they would be loved by any donkey, goat or horse you might have around. I used to save all my leaves and stems for the Collioure donks but now they are eating new spring grasses and are too far away for a swift walk. Sometimes I leave a bag of same out on a hook on our wall for the owner, who will pass by with his sweet animals every now and then.
That said, there is waste with artichokes and no getting around it! To me, worth every discarded leaf!
Try to choose artichokes that have no little needles at the tips of the leaves, as those are getting long in the tooth and, while still tasty, are sometimes resistant to easy prep.
You do not need to snap off the outer leaves for this recipe, but for cooking artichokes sliced and sautéed in olive oil, you must go down to the tender interior body of the choke
This sauce is also very good on poached salmon, as an aperos dip with crackers, or used as a base for soup by adding a bit of chicken broth to thin it and a dollop of Greek yogurt of crème fraiche in each bowl.
- 5 small artichokes (almost all artichoke bouquets contain 5)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped coarse
- ¾ cup chicken broth (once I used the whey from mozzarella di buffalo and it’s very good, too)
- 1 sprig of fresh mint, leaves only
- 2 teaspoons butter
- Juice of half a lemon
- Salt and pepper
Reserve the stems of the artichokes if they are young. Peel the stems and chop coarse.
Place the artichokes in a pan of water, with a smashed clove of garlic added, add a little salt and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer on low for about 30 minutes until outer leaves fall off easily. They will have little ‘meat’ on them so can be discarded.
Drain and take off outer leaves (having a little taste of each) until you reach the pale green/yellow tender part of the artichoke. Lay the choke on its side and slice from the bottom into about 4 slices each of tender choke, discarding the tough tops.
In a skillet, heat the olive oil, add the garlic and the slices of artichoke. When the garlic takes on color, add the broth (or whey), the mint, the butter and the lemon juice. Simmer for 15 minutes, let cool and purée in a food processor until smooth.
Toss with macaroni, penne, or any short pasta, or use as a dip for crackers or base for or addition to a soup.
All content and recipes are copyright of Suzanne Dunaway.