Sunday, March 17, 2013

Countdown to Spring

The first day of spring is just three days away and I am ready! Don't get me wrong. I love snow and skiing and all that jazz, but when it's just cold and wet, spitting and not actually snowing, it's just a drag. On this St. Patrick's Day, I'm not guzzling green beer or eating green bagels, and I'm not dying my hair green. (I know. So lame.) Instead I am eating my greens in the form of artichokes. For some reason preparing artichokes has intimidated me in the past, but if you work with these little guys, you don't have to worry about getting stabbed by extra pointy leaves or forgetting to remove the fuzzy center choke since there isn't one. Just peal off the outer leaves until you get down to the pale interior, trim, slice in half, cook and eat. They are way better than anything from a can or jar and quite impressive at a dinner party. Especially at one somewhere outside.

Braised Baby Artichokes

1 lemon, halved
24 baby artichokes
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

1. Fill a large bowl with water, and squeeze the lemon juice into the water. Reserve the lemon halves. Remove the tough outer leaves of the artichokes. Trim the pointy tops and stems and cut in half lengthwise, rubbing the artichokes with the lemon halves and then transferring them to the lemon water as you work, to prevent discoloration. (See above photo.)

2. Drain the artichokes, and transfer to a large skillet along with the wine and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Set over medium-high heat, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are tender and the liquid has completely evaporated, about 15 minutes.

3. Uncover, lower the heat to medium and add the garlic, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, until the artichokes are tender and browned in spots, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley if desired. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Serves 4.

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