Last week I mentioned that I don’t see purple potatoes in my little area of France.
But, I do see purple artichokes and violet asparagus.
I bought this pretty bouquet of little artichokes the other day.
When we first moved to this side of the pond I was disappointed that the big, round, globe artichokes that I was accustomed to were so difficult to find.
They’re not, anymore. They’re everywhere.
I’ve fallen in love with a littler thistle.
The size of an artichoke is determined by where it is on the plant. Artichokes at the top are larger and working down the plant, shaded by leaves, they get smaller.
Smaller artichokes have very little, if any, prickly choke and are normally eaten in their entirety. Simply pull off the tough, lower bracts, peel the stem. cut in half the long way and cook – outdoors on the barbecue with a bit of olive oil and salt or in a skillet with a bit of lemon and oil
When you buy any artichoke, regardless of size, the bracts should be tightly closed. Once they start to open the artichoke it past it’s prime…. Choose another.
And, in defense of the local farmers who didn’t want to try my Boston Baked Beans:
I love trying new things, learning about new foods, becoming familiar with other cultures…. This is how I choose to live and I embrace it wholeheartedly.
Ireland, Andorra, Spain, France…. who knows what’s next….
And if I don’t actually live there (Italy, Greece, the rest of the world) I can travel through my cooking.
I moved here. I eat mogettes, moules frites, escargots and foie gras.
Had they moved to the US, they would be eating my Boston Baked Beans.
Now, back to the artichokes – Happy Spring!
Braised Artichokes with Ham and Green Garlic
5 small artichokes
6 green garlic, sliced, including green tops
2 slices dry-cured ham, roughly chopped, Prosciutto, Bayonne, Serrano
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup water
Trim artichokes: Pull off and discard the lower, darker bracts until you get to a lighter color, usually 2 – 3 ‘rows’. Cut the top third of the artichoke off and discard – this will be most if not all of the ‘tips’. Trim the stem, leaving about 2 inches and peel. Cut the artichoke in half, lengthwise, through the stem.
To cook: Heat 1 tbs oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add green garlic, ham and sauté briefly. Add artichokes, cut side down, lemon juice and water. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until done, 15 – 20 minutes. They should be tender when pierced with a knife through the thickest part.
To serve: Remove artichokes and arrange in a circle on a platter, stem ends in the center. With a slotted spoon fill the center with the green garlic and ham. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and serve.
Note: I used a higher quality olive all for the finishing drizzle.