** The above picture is what happens when you turn your back for a moment and the hubby grabs the camera and starts arranging food and shooting however he pleases. It makes me smile to see him join me in my interests, so I figure he deserves to have his picture posted at the top of the page. **
A few years ago, we bought two artichoke plants from the local garden store and planted them in our garden. About two feet apart. Whoops. Were you aware that these plants can grow HUGE!?! So, last year we finally capitulated to their needs and moved both of them about five feet apart, giving them wide berth to grow. Or so we thought. Apparently, the artichokes are greedy, and now they want MORE space. Too bad, fellows. We’re square-foot gardening here, and already you’re real estate hogs. Deal with it.
Of course, now these plants are monsters and have taken over this entire portion of our yard, growing into the nearby garden beds, obscuring the path, even pushing their way into nearby roses and fruit trees and generally causing garden mayhem. The rule is that once you cut the artichokes from the plant, you can hack the plant back to the base and wait for it to grow again. So, needless to say, we’ve been in a hurry to eat some artichokes.
Unfortunately for Brant, he’s on his own because I don’t like artichokes. They’re too much work to eat and the prickly leaves make my skin crawl. I guess Brant could eat only so many artichokes-dipped-in-aioli sauce before he finally exclaimed, “Enough!” Any time I mention an alternate recipe for artichokes, he leaps at it.
This recipe makes for beautiful presentation, if not messy eating. Two medium-sized artichokes will make a meal for one person, or you can serve one as a side dish.
By the way, I found this recipe at www.gimmesomeoven.com, a beautiful food blog, if I do say so myself. Check it out when you get bored reading my antics.
1 medium globe artichoke
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium carrot, diced
1 shallot or small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme)
zest of half a lemon
1/2 cup Panko, or regular breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Fill a medium sauce pan 2/3 of the way full of water and bring to a boil.
Prepare the artichoke. Cut off the stem so that the artichoke will sit flat. Cut off the top 1 to 1.5 inch of the artichoke, then use kitchen shears to trim the spiky tops of the outer leaves. Put the artichoke in the boiling water and cover. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until you can pull away an outer leaf without too much resistance.
While the artichokes are boiling, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare the stuffing. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrot and shallot (or onion). Season generously with salt and pepper; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Turn off the heat and add the thyme, zest, and breadcrumbs. Stir to combine. Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper.
When the artichoke is finished cooking, drain the water and run the artichoke under cold water until it’s easy to handle. Put it upside-down on a kitchen towel to drain for a few minutes.
Turn the artichoke over and pull out the pale leaves in the very center, about a 1-inch diameter in the middle of the artichoke. Use a teaspoon or a measuring spoon to scoop out the choke, the hairy fibers inside the middle of the artichoke. Be careful not to scoop out too much of the heart, which is the soft, tasty solid just under the choke. Running your finger around the inside of the artichoke helps find stray choke fibers.
Place the artichoke in a baking dish. Spoon the stuffing into the hollow middle, then scatter the rest around the leaves, fluffing them out and making room for the stuffing to nestle between them.
Bake the stuffed artichoke for 10 to 15 minutes, until the stuffing is warm and the artichoke is very soft. Serve hot and sprinkle lavishly with lemon juice.