Artichokes are an Italian kitchen staple and a spring treat, but they scare me half to death. They look forbidding, have sharp little spines on their leaves, and seem to yield very little for all the work that I thought went into preparing them. A tiny (admittedly, yummy) little heart, and lots and lots of tough leaves with a little dollop of flesh at the end that you eat by scraping against your teeth. Really? Are artichokes worth it?
But New York Times food writer Melissa Clark convinced me to give them a try. (You’ll note in this video that she suggests the large, globe artichoke appears to be best suited as a cudgel. See? I told you they were forbidding.)
I bought some baby artichokes at my local Associated Supermarket and followed her suggestions, boiling them in water flavored with garlic and allowing them to sit in a bath of more garlic and olive oil.
They were delicious.
This just proves the truth of one of my favorite sayings, whose author I can’t remember right now: “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance –- that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”
Now, on to tackle that deadly-looking globe artichoke and find the pleasure of steamed artichoke leaves dipped in butter. I’ll learn to like –- and I'll learn to like to prepare -– this veggie yet.
I’ll be talking to Melissa this Thursday for an upcoming edition of Last Chance Foods. Got a question or comment for her? Are artichokes a regular part of your repertoire? How did YOU learn to make them? What’s the best thing you’ve made from artichokes? (I had heavenly ravioli stuffed with artichoke cream in Rome when my husband and I were there a few weeks ago.) Post your thoughts in a comment below.