Baby artichokes are one of those farmers’ market purchases many people commit to due to a persuasive salesperson or solely based on their attractiveness, but soon regret the purchase when left pondering “how do I cook these?” To solve this common problem, here is an illustrated guide on the bare necessities to preparing those prickly pears into something delicious. Included are 4 simple ways to serve these babies to your friends and family.
Norm’s Notes: Trimming Baby Artichokes in 3 simple steps
Cooked Baby Artichokes
Makes 6 servings
1 lemon, cut in half
2 pounds baby artichokes
4 tsp. kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1. Squeeze juice from 1 lemon half into a large bowl; add cold water until bowl is half full.
2. Pluck away any leaves attached to artichoke stem. Remove tough outer layer covering the stem with a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Cut away top ¼ portion of leaves, leaving a flat surface; cut artichoke in half lengthwise and place in lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichokes.
3. Bring 2 quarts water to a boil in a large saute pan with straight sides or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and salt; squeeze juice from remaining lemon half into water.
4. Drain artichokes and add to boiling liquid. Cover with lid and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until hearts are tender. Drain well and discard garlic cloves. Place artichokes cut sides down on large jelly roll pan and let stand 30 minutes or until cool to the touch.
Note: From this stage the artichokes can be cooled and stored up to 3 days. They are fine to eat in this state, but they taste fairly plain. Take them to the next level and continue with the recipe below.
Lemony-Garlicky Baby Artichokes
Makes 6 servings
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Cooked Baby Artichokes
1. Grate zest from lemon into a large bowl. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice from both halves into bowl, being sure to remove and discard seeds. Stir in garlic, salt, and pepper until combined.
2. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly, until blended.
3. Toss cooked artichoke halves in lemon mixture until coated. Let stand 5 minutes.
4. Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat 5 minutes or until hot. Cook artichokes, in batches, 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until deep brown and slightly charred.
For the grill:
Preheat grill to medium-high heat (375 to 400 degrees). Grill artichokes, covered with grill lid, 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until deep brown and slightly charred.
Note: The artichokes can be cooked a few hours ahead of time and stored, covered at room temperature. Or cover and chill overnight and enjoy them up to 3 days.
Tips on Eating: The first outer layer or two of leaves should be eaten like their adult versions, by scraping off the interior flesh with your teeth. From there, they’re fair game to eat whole. I tend to only eat the bottom two-thirds (this includes the tiny yet tender heart!) and leave the tougher first third on the plate. Since there is no civil way to eat artichokes in general, it’s probably best you enjoy them amongst close friends and family.
Serve 3 More Ways:
These artichokes are the ideal side dish for grilled steak, fish fillets, or chicken. Here are 3 recipes that dress them to impress.
Baby Artichokes with Couscous:
Combine 1 (4.7-oz.) package plain pearled couscous, cooked according to package directions; ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley; 2 green onions, sliced; 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice; and 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on a large platter and top with Lemony-Garlicky Baby Artichokes. Finish with a drizzle of 2 Tbsp. labneh or greek yogurt thinned with a touch (2 to 3 tsp.) of chilled sparkling water. Season with flaked sea salt to taste.
Baby Artichokes Greek-Style:
Arrange 1 recipe of Lemony-Garlicky Baby Artichokes; 2 large tomatoes, sliced; 1 cup large diced cucumber, ¼ large red onion, thinly sliced; and ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves on a large serving platter. Top with crumbled feta cheese and drizzle desired amount of extra-virgin olive oil. Season with flaked sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Kalamata olives are optional.
Baby Artichokes and Baby Kale Salad:
Toss 4 green onions cut into thin strips, 1 (5-oz.) package baby kale, 2 cups thinly sliced English cucumber, 1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves; ½ jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced; and 3 Tbsp. of your favorite vinaigrette together in a large bowl. Top with Lemony-Garlicky Baby Artichokes and serve additional vinaigrette on the side.