Monday, June 30, 2008

A is for Artichokes

This article is the first in a series of recipes featuring winter vegetables. Buying seasonal vegetables is a great way to ensure you are getting fresh, ripe produce. Futher, eating with the seasons is a great way to ensure you are eating a healthy mix of different seasonal fruit and vegetables. It’s natures way of giving us the blend of nutrients we need.

A is for Artichokes

I've always loved the look of Artichokes but besides buying them for pet bunnies or pickled in olive oil or on a pizza, I've never been particularly confident about cooking them. So I've done a quick search of the Internet for recipes.

Kristina’s Artichokes

-To clean them, set a big bowl of water with lemon in it, and start by breaking off the exterior leaves until they come off very easily. You’ll notice the difference as you get closer to the center, and they’ll be more yellow at the base than green.

-Lop off the toughest ends of the ‘flower’, and then take a sharp knife, specific trimming knives exist but I don’t have one, and trim the ends of the leaves all the way around to clean it up. (The woman from whom I buy my produce said to worry about the ‘hairy’ inside after cooking, which saves time, so I do.)

-Trim off the stems, just long enough so they’ll fit in your pot and use a knife or vegetable peeler to clean the tough outer part of the stem. As your clean each artichoke, place them in the bowl of water. IMPORTANT: Use the lemons to thoroughly and excessively clean your fingertips or else you will have stained cuticles and underneath your nails will stain for a week to follow. Not cute if you work in an environment where proper grooming is expected of you.

-Finely chop two or three cloves of garlic, a handful of parsley, and a handful of basil. Place these in the bottom of a pot that is high enough to hold your artichokes.

-Pour 1 / 2 (one half) cup of olive oil in, and then a cup of water, or enough so that the artichokes are covered by about two-fingers of liquid. Put the artichokes in face down, add salt and pepper, cover the pan with aluminum foil (or not) and then the lid.

- Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer until they are cooked, about 20 minutes. (A knife inserted through the center goes in with little resistance).