Tiny thistles

June 4, 2008

I’ve always been drawn to bitty things: baby carrots, mini-muffins, and decorative teaspoons. So when I spotted adorable baby artichokes spilling out of a bin at the farmers’ market, I was easily and quickly persuaded to buy a dozen.

The catch was that I’d never previously prepared artichokes; I’d only ever spooned them from a can into pastas and salads for quick, easy artichoke enjoyment. After all, as Kelly Myers points out in her column on how to prepare an artichoke, prepping mature artichokes requires guidance and time.

baby artichokes
Baby artichokes for sale at a farmers’ market.

Fortunately, preparing baby artichokes isn’t such a daunting task. They’re still thistles with stiff outer leaves, but these leaves easily pull off to reveal the prize: a tender, pale yellow-green heart.

After peeling away the outer leaves, I simply cut the top and the stem off, halved them with a paring knife, and tossed them into lemon water (the lemon keeps the exposed flesh from browning).

Next, I followed Ivy Manning’s recipe for Baby Artichoke and Fava Bean Salad with Pecorino, and within the hour was enjoying my first attempt at making an artichoke dish.

Later I realized that I could have also enjoyed them raw. Culinate has an Elizabeth David recipe for an Italian-style salad of raw artichokes. Mark Bittman, a big artichoke fan, features a recipe on his blog for shaved artichoke salad; it received so many inquiries and comments that he blogged about it twice. Finally, New York magazine recently ran a recipe for raw artichoke salad that’s quite similar to Bittman’s and as simple as it gets.

And this just in: Today in the New York Times Bittman shares yet another artichoke recipe, Little Artichokes Provençal Style, which requires cooking but is still straightforward enough to try on a weeknight soon.

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1. by anonymous on Aug 27, 2009 at 1:40 PM PDT

Eating raw artichokes will make your mouth tongue black. When ever I prepare them, I wear gloves, otherwise you will have black fingers.

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