How I’m loving the newfound explosion of spring vegetables at the market — eensy heads of lettuce, demure little bulbs of fennel — but most exciting are the mounds of baby artichokes. (As opposed to the bad boys pictured above, from last month’s visit to San Diego’s Hillcrest Farmer’s Market.)
Seems everyone’s been jumping on the artichoke bandwagon lately. Ilva’s whipped up some delicious-looking (and of course gorgeously photographed) oven-baked artichokes with sausage, lemon and breadcrumbs; single chef Ben pairs them with shrimp for a springy salad; Gluten-Free Girl Shauna enjoys them in a creamy risotto; and Sam revisits her artichoke panzanella, making “the best thing she ever did” even better.
Matt goes to the source, getting chokes (and more stunning images) directly from the field. He prefers his steamed, straight up with butter and aioli. Who can argue with that? I also seem to have read a recommendation of serving them with hummus, which sounds both tasty and somewhat less artery-clogging.
The batch of babies I purchased at the market got two treatments: First, I pared them down and split them, then browned the cut sides and braised them in a little chicken stock, lemon, garlic and red pepper flake. Then, inspired by a salad I had at Incanto recently, I shaved them raw, thinly, directly into a salad of baby fennel and shredded romaine hearts with a light lemon vinaigrette. Raw, they had a bright, grassy flavor and a strong perfume.
But as bigger globes come available, I have some ideas in mind. At Woodhouse Fish Co.,
I enjoyed grilled artichoke halves stuffed with shrimp and crab,
dressed with a pungent lemon-pesto butter. While the grilling gave the
chokes a nice smoky char, the halves probably could have been steamed
just a bit to cook the hearts through better. Still, the combination of
fresh artichoke, succulent crab meat and a nice, hoppy beer is one of
the most syngergistic I can think of.
And since Easter is upon us, I just might have to whip up a batch of stuffed artichokes, benefitting from last year’s pictorial how-to featuring some star hand modelling on the part of my mother.
One year ago today … After pondering a trip to Spain over a nice cup of tea, I took things in a decidedly Japanese direction with miso-glazed black cod with dashi, bok choi and fiddlehead fern.