Dinner

By Madeleine Ignon | April 4, 2011

Artichokes

The Casual Vegetarian By Madeleine Ignon

Artichokes are effort. Or at least, eating them is: dunking the bases of the leaves in a delicious dip made of butter and/or mayonnaise, scraping a little bit of meat off each with your bottom teeth, slowly making your way to the glorious heart, and ending up with a massive pile of leaves on your plate.

When I lived in Venice, Italy, I would buy artichoke hearts at the open-air market. Vendors there slice the artichokes sideways, concentrating only on what exists below the leaves and above the stem, and float the thick heart-disks in tubs of water to keep them fresh. They looked like clean, white saucers, barely recognizable without the stems and leaves. Sauteed in olive oil with capers, garlic, and onions, and simmered with prosecco, they’d become tender and sweet, none of the peeling and scavenging required.

This recipe is a combination of two that my friend who was with me in Venice sent my way as we were reminiscing about our weeks there. None of the artichokes I could find here were big enough to slice up like the Venetians do, so these still call for a bit of careful deconstruction, but the flavors are similar and there is a nice contrast in texture between leaves and heart.

  • 4 small artichokes(I used the globe variety)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped
  • generous handful of chopped parsley
  • olive oil
  • 4 tsp capers
  • 5-7 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed

Directions

1. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze half its juice into a bowl of cold water.

2. Take off the tough outer leaves of each artichoke, about 3 layers. Cut 3/4-inch off the top and cut off the stem. Cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out any choke (the hairy part) from the center. Drop the artichoke halves into the bowl of lemon water (to keep them from getting too brown in the air).

3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over low to medium heat. Add the chopped onion. Saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir about 2 minutes.

4. Drain artichokes and add to skillet. Add 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth, the second half of the lemon's juice, bay leaves, and thyme. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Add wine. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, then add the rest of the vegetable broth. Let it simmer for about 20 more minutes, until the leaves are nice and soft. Mix in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

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