Local Artichokes, Or Are They?

Local Artichokes, Or Are They?

Eating seasonally and locally is part of my religion.  Almost to absurdity, or so my friends and family will point out.  But I’m committed, for many reasons.  I want small farms to thrive; I want air to be clean and carbon footprints to be as small as possible.  So I don’t care how tired I am of leeks – if it’s winter, we eat leeks.  We also eat broccoli and cauliflower, root vegetables, cabbage,  and endives. Unless the season is poor. Then we eat whatever else is available.  And when a new season sweeps in, I don’t look back.

I confess that of late I’ve fallen off my own wagon or at least let a foot slip off. The culprit is artichokes.  I just cannot resist them, and neither could Louix XIV, who considered them his “cute little sin” and insisted his gardener at Versailles plant multiple varieties (supposedly five).  (I’ve always felt I had a lot in common with French royalty, in terms of my culinary taste at least). Artichokes are  at the market now, fat bunches of mid-size, purple-tinged beauties, the kind that yield little golden and tender hearts, have hardly any “foin” or choke, and whose leaves are so tender they might be butter in a different form.

As I succumb I do think it makes some kind of sense.  The artichoke season in Italy is tongue-in-groove with that of the French season.   As we wave goodbye to the huge, globe-like Camus artichokes from Brittany and the teeny little “poivrades” from Provence, we usher in the purple-tinged versions from Italy, which is only 600 miles away.  And this is where I’m confronted by a conundrum.  What is the definition of local? Is it 100km? 1000km? Does Italy fit in?

There isn’t a definition of local that states exact distance.  When it comes to food, local is a concept and a decision as much as a reality.  I’m ferocious in my devotion to supporting local growers but my commitment is to a doctrine rather than a dogma.  While I always prefer to put my money in the hand of the grower, I want to eat lemons and drink coffee, enjoy tea and season with spices.  So, I practice the doctrine of “doing the best I can” which means supporting local agriculture and squeezing lemon juice over it.  What about you?

Thus, my hymn to the small artichoke in its season from the closest farm possible.

Print Recipe
SMALL ARTICHOKES BRAISED WITH GARLIC - PETITS ARTICHAUTS AUX AROMATES
This is a lovely side dish when to make with any small artichoke. Those called baby artichokes are perfect. They aren’t actually babies, of course, but second growth artichokes which follow the huge globe artichokes on the plant.
SMALL ARTICHOKES BRAISED WITH GARLIC -  PETITS ARTICHAUTS AUX AROMATES
Cuisine French
Keyword artichoke
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1/2 lemon halved
  • About 12 medium or 20 small artichokes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic green germ removed, cut in matchsticks
  • ¼ cup flat leaf parsley leaves
  • sea salt
  • Fleur de sel
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Cuisine French
Keyword artichoke
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1/2 lemon halved
  • About 12 medium or 20 small artichokes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic green germ removed, cut in matchsticks
  • ¼ cup flat leaf parsley leaves
  • sea salt
  • Fleur de sel
  • Freshly ground black pepper
SMALL ARTICHOKES BRAISED WITH GARLIC -  PETITS ARTICHAUTS AUX AROMATES
Instructions
  1. Prepare a large bowl of acidulated water by squeezing the lemon pieces into the water and adding them to the water.
  2. Trim the artichokes right down to their pale yellow leaves, trimming off any green. Cut the ends of the leaves flush with the heart – there is a sort of “waist” on the artichoke that will guide you. Cut the artichokes in half, vertically, and scoop out the choke, if there is any, using either a stainless paring knife or tea spoon. Place the trimmed artichokes in the acidulated water.
    Trim the artichokes right down to their pale yellow leaves, trimming off any green.  Cut the ends of the leaves flush with the heart – there is a sort of “waist” on the artichoke that will guide you.   Cut the artichokes in half, vertically, and scoop out the choke, if there is any, using either a stainless paring knife or tea spoon.  Place the trimmed artichokes in the acidulated water.
  3. Place the oil, the garlic, 1/2 cup (125ml) of the lemon water from the artichokes including the lemon pieces, a moderate amount of salt and pepper, and the artichoke hearts in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. When the water begins to boil, reduce the heat so it is simmering, cover the pan and cook until the artichoke hearts are tender, about 12 minutes, checking on the artichokes and adding additional water if they cook dry. When the artichokes are tender, remove the lid and cook until all the moisture is evaporated.
    Place the oil, the garlic, 1/2 cup (125ml) of the lemon water from the artichokes including the lemon pieces, a moderate amount of salt and pepper, and the artichoke hearts in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.  When the water begins to boil, reduce the heat so it is simmering, cover the pan and cook until the artichoke hearts are tender, about 12 minutes, checking on the artichokes and adding additional water if they cook dry.  When the artichokes are tender, remove the lid and cook until all the moisture is evaporated.
  4. Mince the parsley leaves.
  5. Continue cooking the artichokes, stirring and shaking the pan, until they are slightly golden, just a minute or two. Add the parsley, toss so they are thoroughly incorporated into the artichoke hearts, and remove from the heat. Transfer them to a warmed, shallow serving dish. Sprinkle with additional fleur de sel and pepper and serve immediately.
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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Cathy

    LOL – Louis XIV’s “cute little sin”
    I think I would agree. I also didn’t know that baby artichokes are the second growth which follows the huge globe artichokes.
    I always learn so much from you.
    The recipes looks simplistically divine.
    Thank you!

    1. Susan

      Cathy I hope you can try them. Here, artichokes are still at the market!

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