Spring is for Artichokes

Spring has sprung and with it we are diving into our favorite vegetable of the moment, the noble and delicious artichoke. When I eat artichokes, I often find myself daydreaming about vacations in Rome, foggy drives through coastal artichoke fields in Monterey, and the incredible crispy “Carciofi Alla Judea” at Locanda Osteria in the mission — the stuff foodie dreams are made of. My family’s very favorite simple preparation, “Ali’s Artichokes”, is pretty dreamy in its own right. I think my boys mostly love artichokes because they are fun to eat and I suppose that’s just fine too. Happy Spring!

The noble and delicious artichoke.

"Ali's artichokes" our favorite way to eat them.

"Artichoke Friend" (with his pal the carrot), by Luca

We're waiting for Sherm, mascot of our garden, to start producing!

Ali’s Artichokes

My cousin Ali, a master of the grill, taught me to make artichokes this way. That little bit of crispness and char make them especially delicious.

  1. Start your steamer and have it hot and ready to go because artichokes start to discolor the moment you cut them.
  2. While your steamer is getting hot, trim your artichokes. Here’s a great video by Chef Ian Knauer (below).  If you’re planning to trim them ahead, toss them in a bowl of water to which you have added a generous squeeze of lemon to keep them from discoloring.   ** For this preparation, we like our artichokes trimmed and cut in half. We don’t bother removing the chokes, because they’re easier  to scoop out after steaming. **
  3. Steam until just tender. I steam them for 20 minutes and then start checking them every 5-10 minutes. Once tender, I let them cool a bit until they’re cool enough to handle. I scoop out the choke with a spoon and then “marinate” them in olive oil and sea salt. You can grill them right away or leave them covered in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Before serving, give them 5 minutes on a grill or under the broiler to crisp them and give them a bit of char.
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