Friday, April 16, 2010

Stewed Baby Artichokes & Tomatoes


Organic baby artichokes from California have been arriving in local shops around here, and when I see these little guys, I can't resist buying some. I'd  love to leave them sitting in a bowl and just look at them, because they are so pretty. But, it's usually not long before they end up in a pot.

I'm always looking for new ways to prepare artichokes, so anyone reading, please share your favorite artichoke recipes if you're so inclined. : ) My favorite way to prepare artichokes is to stew them with some tomatoes and shallots. It's simple, yet tasty and goes wonderfully  with rice or crusty bread.

I have to admit that preparing these little guys seems sort of wasteful at first, because you really do need to remove all the tough parts and outer layers. The tender middle is a worthy reward though, and it helps to remember that they are thistles, so it's natural that you'd have to do a bit of grooming to make them palatable.

I usually start by topping and tailing them, cutting off the top third of the flower and the very tip of the stem. If  you like, you can try to salvage any little inner bits from the top that seem tender enough to eat.

top third cut off

Then, I remove the outer leaves. I  rely on my  tactile sense and just keep pulling leaves off until I can only feel tender flesh...any little bit of toughness and I pull the leaf. Pulling the leaves off in a downward motion will also remove the outer skin on the stem, which is good, because it's tough and not particularly nice to eat.


outer leaves and skin on stem removed

Finally, I cut the artichoke in half length-wise and remove the center of the choke with a paring knife.  You can see below that the bottom piece has the choke removed, while the top piece still has the choke in tact. At this point, you'd want to drop the artichokes in some water with lemon juice, as they will turn brown very quickly otherwise. 

When I make this particular dish, I usually get the tomato sauce cooking first, and then as I prepare each artichoke, just drop it right into the stewing sauce. The acid from the tomatoes works the same as lemon juice, and once the artichokes are immersed and begin to cook, you no longer have to worry about them going brown.

choke removed (left)

For the stewing sauce, I saute some roughly sliced shallot and garlic in a bit of olive oil and add a few red pepper flakes.When the shallot begins to become tender, I toss in some roughly chopped fresh tomatoes and about 1 cup of water, then toss in the artichokes as I prepare them.  For this batch, I used 2 large shallots, 6 garlic cloves (left whole) 10 baby artichokes, and  6 large vine tomatoes. Once I  have all ingredients in the pot, I bring it to a simmer, cover, and let it cook gently for about 30-40 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.




In the end, you have a simple artichoke dish. I usually garnish it with fresh parsley, but any herb of choice would be good. A squeeze of fresh lemon is also a nice addition.


Bon Appétit

11 comments:

  1. Omg, I adore artichokes! I grew up right outside of castroville, ca, aka home of all artichokes, and the best most simple way we always had them was steamed with a bit of garlicy aoili..they're kind of labor intense veggies, so my newer fav thing is frozen hearts added to tofu scramble, or dipped in fake egg, rolled in breadcrumbs and baked with side of marinara dipping sauce....

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  2. Rose,

    I love your stewed artichoke recipe. You are right this is season to make them as often as possible. I may have to post another artichoke recipe this week. They are my all time favorite veggie. Thanks for the inspiration! ;-)

    Alicia

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  3. I am so intimidated by Artichokes. I've never prepared them but I bought two on Thursday just to force myself. They're sitting on my counter and by golly I'm gonna steam those suckers! If I ruin them or wind up chewing on the tough parts, so be it!

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  4. Anon,

    Thanks for the great ideas!

    Alicia,

    Bring on those artichoke recipes!

    SV,

    Go for it...I'm sure they'll be delish!

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  5. Artichokes are one of the few veggies I have never tried, so thanks for the step by step on how to prep them. This looks really yummy.

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  6. Mmm-mm-mm! I love artichokes! Our plant now has three beauties growing on it, and I check them every day. I've prepared artichokes similarly in the past with regards to the cutting you did, not the cooking. I found it time consuming, but the end result was delicious, as your dish looks. My favorite, easy way is simple steaming. And, I love to eat the leftover steamed artichokes for lunch the next day cold. I'll purposely make extras just to have them like this. Your dish looks amazing!

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  7. Janet,

    Artichokes are so pretty both before and after they bloom, it's hard to decide whether to eat them or just let them be flowers...but they are tasty, if you try them, I'd love to hear what you think of them.

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  8. BlessedMama,

    It's wonderful that you have artichokes in your garden...I'll be looking forward to your recipes...I must try steaming them next...I'm sure they're delicious that way.

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  9. omgosh i am so jealous!!i am waiting for artichokes (that arent 3.50!!!) i will be making them plain first just to get my artichoke fix before i can try something fancy like this!! baby artichokes are so sweet and cute:)ttyl Dandelion

    michelle and lilly:)

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  10. The artichokes are gorgeous! Yum!

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  11. Hi Michelle & Lilly,

    I know, I love how adorable the little artichokes are...it's kind of difficult to decide to eat them. Hope you get your artichoke fix soon!

    Haymarket,

    They are beauties aren't they?

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