Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Artichoke

Growing up in an Italian family gave me early exposure to this wonderful delicacy.  They were served at many of our holiday celebrations.  The first time I actually saw an artichoke in its natural state was during a trip to Provence a few years ago.  We were staying at a lovely old country house where there were artichokes growing in the garden.  Quite a different site from what I was accustomed to seeing in my local grocery store.

When preparing artichokes, I steam them in a few inches of water with olive oil and salt added to the water.  They take about an hour to cook, and are ready when you can easily pull out one of the middle leaves.  I make a olive oil, garlic and butter sauce which I pour over the artichoke (loosen the leaves a little first) then sprinkle with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and a little fresh lemon juice.
How to prepare the artichoke:
Rinse artichokes throughly and drain excess water.  Cut the stem off the bottom and trim about 1/2 inch off the top to remove the sharp thistle at the tips of the leaves.  Add a tbsp of olive oil and 1/2 tsp of salt to the water.  Place artichokes in the water, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for about 1 hour.  Test by pulling one of the middle leaves out.  If it comes out easily they are done.  
Place 2 tbsp of olive oil in a saute pan.  When the oil is hot  add a clove of chopped garlic.  Cook until garlic begins to brown.  Add 2 tbsp of butter or Earth Balance and cook for another minute.  Turn off heat and add some chopped fresh parsley.   Pour this over the artichoke.  If you need any tips on eating an artichoke you should find what you need here.  Enjoy!

The country house in France where I spotted the artichoke in the garden:
Post your comments or questions below.

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