Monday, May 14, 2012
In Season: With Artichokes, Babies Are Best
Sometimes I think contributor Jim Dixon of RealGoodFood has his booth at the PSU Farmers' Market for the sole reason that he gets first pick of all the newest produce as it comes in season. So if you see him there, be sure to quiz him about his recommendations while you peruse the Italian olive oils, vinegars, fennel pollen and particularly the addictive origano Pantesco (Italian oregano) he has on offer.
The first artichokes of the year appeared at the farmers' market on Saturday, so I bought a bag of the little thistles from my friends’ at Groundworks Organics. When the globes are really young, the fuzzy choke is hardly there, so trimming them down to just the bottoms isn’t too onerous. It still takes some time, but I think the results are worth it and there should be still be plenty available for the next several weeks.
Cut the top half of the baby artichokes away, pull off most of the leaves, split the artichokes from top to bottom, and dig out any fuzzy choke. Most recipes call for putting cut artichokes into acidulated water (lemon juice or vinegar added) to prevent browning, but they turn brown when you cook them anyway, so I skip this part. Just put the trimmed artichokes halves in a heavy pan (one you can cover) with a good bit of extra virgin olive oil.
Into the same skillet add a couple (2-4, depending) of the best anchovies you can buy (these at Gustiamo are the best I’ve found and worth every penny), cleaned if salt-packed, diced small. Also add a few cloves of garlic, diced, a couple of tablespoons of good capers (you can buy the Pantellerian capers from Gustiamo, too, until my load arrives), and a good pinch or two of origano Pantesco. Cook everything gently in the oil for about 10 minutes, then add about a quarter cup of water, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the artichokes are tender. Good hot or at room temp.