Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Cooking Artichokes

I was very pleased to find Ontario grown artichokes at the grocery store recently! They are definitely not a traditionally available vegetable for us. We've tried growing them, and have not had much success. I think we got one. And when I think of the size of the plant that laboured to bring forth that single one; well, apparently artichokes are a little pricey for a reason.

As I prepared them I noted that they have changed a bit since the instructions on preparing them first started to circulate, back with the Romans presumably. Ours had no really detectable spiny tips, and once we had pulled off enough leaves to get to the heart, what used to be the "choke*" in the middle was non-existent. Hurray for modern vegetable breeding!

I made an oil and vinegar based dipping sauce for ours, but melted butter is very traditional, with or without garlic, and I suspect the chipotle mayonnaise commonly served with sweet potato fries would also be a good choice.

1 artichoke per serving
45 minutes prep time

Artichokes with Dipping Sauce

Cook the Artichokes:
1 artichoke per serving

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil, sufficient to hold the artichokes and allow them to move freely.

Trim the stem to remove the discoloured end, but leave most of it in place unless it is very long - the base of the artichoke is good eating. Remove any loose, damaged, or notably tough leaves, and if some of the leaves are spiny at the tips, trim off the tips.

Boil the artichokes until tender, about 30 to 40 minutes depending on size. Most Ontario artichokes are not too big, so 30 minutes will generally be sufficient. Give them a stir occasionally to make sure they cook evenly.

Balsamic-Garlic Dipping Sauce:
1 small clove of garlic
1 tablespoon sunflower or olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Peel and mince the garlic. Heat the oil in a very small pan, and cook the garlic in it until just barely coloured (only a minute or so). Remove the pan from the heat, and add the balsamic vinegar at once. Promptly pour it into the serving dish. Sauce ingredients are per artichoke.

*I believe this was a little section of barely formed leaves that were nevertheless already quite spiny... not a great thing to be chewing and swallowing so it was always removed.

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