Have you seen them yet? Plump and silvery green with prickly scales and furry centers; they’re in season right now. Big, beautiful springtime artichokes are here.
I’ve certainly eaten my fair share of artichokes over the years and I savor every delicious moment they are in season during the spring months and again for a shorter time in the fall.
Don’t let yourself be intimidated, although they may be a bit tricky to prepare, they are well worth the effort. Once you’ve tamed their prickly thorns and fuzzy chokes this edible bulb offers a delicate taste, sweet and mellow that can’t be matched.
Eating an artichoke is a hands-on experience. Peeling back each delicate petal with your fingers and dragging it gently between your teeth to remove the soft fleshy bit forces you to slow down and appreciate every delicious bite, until you finally reach the best part: the tender heart.
My usual preparation is generally to steam them whole and enjoy them with a vinaigrette, but when I want to dress them up, I head for the oven.
No exotic ingredients, unusual spices or complicated cooking methods, just a gentle braise that results in an ambrosial fragrance that will invade your kitchen.
After stripping off the tough outer leaves, snipping off the thorns, and removing the inner choke, I toss the artichokes in a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil and white wine flavored with garlic and thyme and seasoned with sea salt and ground pepper. The garlic and thyme gently infuse the braising liquid with a subtle, elusive flavor.
Serve them either warm or chilled with an extra squeeze of lemon juice and a shower of fresh parsley, linger and enjoy.