Thursday, May 12, 2011

Artichokes for Dinner

My original ode to the Artichoke post appeared a week ago, for a mere 12 hours, before being mysteriously deleted by the folks at Google's Blogspot while they performed some updates on their blog service. The spontaneous words and thoughts there-in are now lost to an internet graveyard. I'll try to conjure a bit of the joy and flavor of that post for you again rather than mourn the loss completely. 

These lovely specimens of nature grace our table only on occasion, and usually at the request of a three year-old. I love that freshly cooked artichokes make any meal feel festive and special. For me, they are a splurge and treat, but a great one. I usually just slice off the tip of the bulb and trim the rest of the spiky leaves with a pair of scissors (as seen above). Then toss them into a pot of boiling water with a little salt, lemon and black peppercorns (but plain old water will do just fine). Boil (or steam) the artichokes until a leaf pulls easily off from the bulb, about 25-30 minutes. You can use a pressure cooker to speed up the process if you have one.

A freshly cooked artichoke heart is buttery and smooth, 
nothing like it's tough pickled cousins from a jar. 

When you get to the heart of the artichoke, the leaves will be paper thin. Pull off the few remaining leaves, use a spoon to scrape out the fine "hairs" covering the heart (shown in the center picture). Slice the heart into a few pieces to prolong it's existence and enjoy it, plain, with butter, herbs, salt and pepper or any other way you can imagine. For a simple vegan dipping sauce, stir some miso with warm water, a pinch of black pepper and an optional drizzle of sweetener such as honey or agave.

For this meal I served the chokes with a small bowl of melted butter, and some turkey, avocado and spinach sandwiches. My kids started devouring the food before it left the counter which was a good sign, and we managed to set up a little front yard picnic to build on the festivity. It was one of those wonderful nights that help me to slow down and remember some of the blessings I have: family, food, and space.
One other blessing I discovered was spinach growing in my raised beds, ready to harvest in May!! I planted this spinach last fall in hopes of building a cold frame or a row cover to experiment with winter growing. The building never happened, and the tiny spinach leaves lay insulated under 2 feet of snow all winter. As soon as it melted, the spinach burst to life and I can now harvest tinder 4-6 inch leaves daily. I've planted new spring seeds around the fall patch and they are slowly catching up in size.

How do you like to serve artichokes? 
Please comment below.

No comments:

Post a Comment