Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Baby Artichokes, I love 'em

A raw baby artichoke is on the left side. A prepped artichoke ready for the saucepan is on the right.

After simmering the artichokes for 40 minutes, they were tender. Here, they are stored in water with a tablespoon of white vinegar.

A cooked baby artichoke, halved, as you can see, the choke is practically non-existent.

Marinated baby artichokes in bibb lettuce. Just fold the lettuce over and pop it in your mouth.

Baby Artichokes.

Just the thought of baby veggies brings a smile to a person's face. So cute and tiny laying there in nothing more than a little pat of butter. They also bring a smile to marketer's faces, and pocketbooks. Baby artichokes are nothing more than the side shoots of the artichoke plant. The large artichokes come from the top during the months of March through May. A short season that begged to be expanded. In came the marketers, "Hey, use those small side shoot 'chokes and call them babies." Ahh, the genius.

No matter what, they are tasty, and simple to prep and cook. It begins with rinsing off the small artichokes. Then trimming the stem down to a 1/4". Simple break off the petals until you get the yellow-based petals. Trim off the green top and put the prepped artichoke in some water that has a lemon squeezed into it or a tablespoon of white vinegar. This acid keeps the 'chokes from oxidizing, which I might add, happens almost immediately upon cutting.

So, after all the 'chokes are prepped, pour off the water. Add fresh water to a large saucepan and another TB of white vinegar or lemon juice. Add all of the prepped artichokes. As you have now noticed, they float. So tear off a piece of parchment paper and fold it so it fits into the pot and on top of the 'chokes. This way the condensation on the parchment paper will cook the tops of the artichokes.

Cook over a medium simmer for about 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center goes through without any resistance (think, room temperature butter). Drain.

I had 12 artichokes and I halved them and followed both of the methods outlined below. So scale up accordingly if you are doing one or the other.

Storage option 1: Put them in a medium-sized container and really pack them in and then pour water over them and sprinkle over a tsp. of salt.

Storage option 2: Halve or quarter the artichokes. In a medium bowl, mix together the juice of one lemon and about 2 TB roasted pistachio oil (or olive oil) and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Do not add garlic. It does dangerous things when mixed with olive oil and refrigerated for any length of time. Add the garlic right before using the artichokes in a preparation. Anyway, mix together the lemon juice, oil, and salt. Basically, you just made a vinaigrette. Add the artichokes and toss to coat. Put in container with a lid and store in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

The whole artichokes can be used in another recipe ie artichoke dip, artichokes and pasta, etc...

The marinated artichokes are delicious on an antipasti platter, in the middle of a little lettuce leaf, or straight from the bowl.

There are lots of options for some delicious meals, plus they are very high in antioxidants. They, like tomatoes, up their antioxidant properties when cooked. In fact, boiling vs raw ups the ante by 8. Steaming them vs raw ups the properties by 15. Wow.

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