A few years back during a very good spring for Artichokes I found myself with more than I knew what to do with. I had my crew clean, slice and cook two cases of the small loose ones. As I was looking at them in the walk-in refrigerator and thinking what was I going to do with all of them, a customer’s remark came back to me. He had said that artichokes were not wine friendly, and his view is shared by many wine enthusiasts. I didn’t buy into that school of thinking, and set out to create a preparation that would make these tasty thistles marry well with wine. That’s how the following recipe came about. By the way I think this preparation of artichokes goes very well with a light acidity white wine, and the customer that made the remark agreed with the pairing I suggested: a nice bottle of Vernaccia.
These Artichokes are great as a condiment for pasta, or as a vegetable to serve with Lamb or fish. Start with 4lbs of small loose baby artichokes (the fresher the better). Clean the artichokes by tearing off the tough outer leaves. In other words clean them until the tender inner yellow leaves are showing. When the artichokes are all cleaned, cut off the stem and the tops (about 1inch).
Prepare a pot large enough to hold the artichokes and add water and a 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Slice the artichokes thinly and add to the water and lemon, place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook the artichokes until just tender. Drain the chokes and cool under running cold water. Place the cooled chokes in a shallow roasting pan, large enough to spread out the chokes into a thin layer.
While you have the oven pre-heating to 400 degrees, peel 2 small red onions and cut in half. Slice the onion very thinly and layer over the chokes. Next take 4 TBS of sliced garlic and sprinkle over the mixture. Sprinkle red pepper flakes over the whole mixture (about 2 TBS) and pour 1/2 cup of good olive oil over the artichoke mixture, and add salt to taste. Mix the whole mixture very well coating everything with the oil. Place the artichokes in the pre heated oven and set the timer for 35 mins. After 35 mins remove the pan and stir the mixture so that the bottom artichokes are now on top. Return the pan to the oven and roast for another 20 to 30 mins checking often and stirring each time you check. When the artichokes are slightly browned and the edges a bit crispy, they are done. Remove from the oven and let cool. To reheat, simply warm in a saute pan with a tsp of olive oil, or serve right out of the oven. I like to let them cool and then place a whole Branzino fish over the artichokes and roast the fish with the artichokes.
California artichokes are available year-round, with peak harvests in the spring and fall. Enjoy.