A Vegetable That Requires a Little Extra Work Is Worth It
All hail the artichoke
I’ve been looking forward to artichoke season since Mark name-dropped them in his travel writing about Rome. (If you missed the favorite travel dishes discussion, you can check it out here.) While we’re a bit away from the season on the unseasonably cold East Coast, scenes from Italian Instagram have been flashing farmers market beauties for several weeks, while over in California, it seems like artichoke season is just about now.
In-season stuff is great, of course, but Mark says that frozen ones are just fine. The other nice thing about frozen is that the work is done for you: No need to trim tops and leaves or scoop out the choke. I *do* love ingredients that require a bit of labor — lobsters and oysters fall in that category — and though I’m probably wrong, I think those kinds of ingredients taste better, or at the very least, work up an appetite.
Speaking of work: This week, we’ve got mildly labor-intensive (but fun) parmesan-infused noodles made from scratch that you’ll likely want to save for the weekend. In addition, we have a budget-friendly recipe for artichoke dip, stewed artichokes with beans and peas, as well as braised artichoke hearts with ham, wine, and lemon that you can easily make vegetarian.
Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Time: 10 minutes
A lighter, potentially vegan version of the party favorite, which usually includes quite a bit of mayonnaise. You won’t miss it. In a pinch, you can use canned or jarred artichokes here, provided they’re packed in brine, not marinade; drain and rinse them well.
1 thick slice day-old bread
1 cup warmed vegetable stock, milk, or water, plus more as needed.
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
1 cup shelled walnuts
2 cloves garlic, peeled
8 ounces cooked artichoke hearts (about 4 large, or use frozen)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or to taste
Salt and pepper
1. Put the bread in a bowl and saturate it with some of the stock. Squeeze the bread to drain off excess liquid. Put the bread in a food processor with the oil, nuts and garlic. Process the walnuts are ground. Then with the machine running, pour in enough of the remaining liquid and more oil to form a creamy sauce.
2. Add the artichokes and pulse the machine until they are chopped and integrated but not pureed. Stir in the lemon juice and some salt and pepper. serve right away or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Parmesan Artichoke Dip. Still lighter than the usual mayonnaise-laden version: In step 2, add 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese with the lemon juice. Transfer to a heatproof serving dish and run under the broiler until the top is browned in spots.
Read on for:
Braised Artichoke Hearts with Ham, Wine, and Lemon
Parmesan-Infused Noodles with Shaved Artichoke Hearts
And the best stewed artichokes around
Stewed Artichokes with Beans and Peas
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 1 hour
This is a classic combination of Italian spring vegetables but it’s also a template of Italian spring vegetables, but it’s also a template for stewing any fresh veggies you like in olive oil. If you cannot get small artichokes — those so small they have no choke, so you can simply trim and quarter them — get frozen artichoke hearts. If you cannot get favas, get limas; here, too, frozen are OK, and same for the peas. This stew makes a good sauce for cut pasta, like penne.
Other vegetables you can prepare this way: This is a nearly universal recipe; almost anything you think of will work here, from spinach to potatoes to asparagus, as long as you adjust the cooking time accordingly. Mix and match as you like.