A couple of weeks ago I saw a package of baby artichokes at my local Super Stop n Shop. Not armed with the knowledge that the height of baby artichoke season is generally early summer (ie; May or June), I scooped them up. Baby artichokes are a novelty to me so I read up on them from the website on the packaging and surprisingly, they are not a completely different type of artichoke than the bigger ones we’re used to seeing. You can read more about them here as well as see a step by step instructional on how to prepare the baby artichokes. The website also include some various cooking methods.
I don’t have any pictures of me actually preparing the artichokes as it is quite a messy ordeal. I don’t think the hubby would’ve appreciated me man-handling the precious that is our camera with my dirty hands. I believe the process was rendered even more complicated because my artichokes may not have been at their best. When I cut open the choke, I found tons of spiky purple leaves as well as fur that is not present at all in the pictures on the Ocean Mist website. Of course these unsightly features had to go and as such, I was left with fairly little meat from each choke and artichoke fur all over my hands.
Sautéed Baby Artichokes
12-14 baby artichokes, prepared according to above link
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flake
1 lemon, juiced along with peel
salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, slice each artichoke into four pieces lengthwise. Add shallot and red pepper flake to the oil and sauté for about 1 minute or until shallot is translucent and fragrant. Add baby artichokes to pan without overcrowding the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I had to do this in two batches. Do not flip or touch the artichokes for about 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, flip the artichoke and let the other side sear for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and add the next batch as necessary.
After all of the artichoke is done, pour the lemon juice into the pan to scrape up any bits of artichoke that may be left sticking to the pan. Heat through and then pour the lemon sauce over the artichokes. Using a microplane grater, grate the lemon peel over the dish. At this point I also finished the dish off with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Overall, the dish was delicious and served two nicely for lunch. My verdict is that it was worth it at least to have gained experience in how to prepare these babies which I think many feel are intimidating. I think next year I will prepare a baby artichoke in May or June when they are more in season. Anybody have any must-try recipes?