Christmas is almost here and as usual, I’m thinking of what to make for Christmas dinner.
My go-to main dish is always a standing rib roast accompanied by the “usual suspects”: glazed carrots, green beans with some caramelized shallots, baby peas with scallions and roasted potatoes. All are wonderful, of course.
But this year, I’m thinking of serving something a little different—a side dish with artichokes. My mother made artichokes a lot when I was growing up. Her stuffed artichokes with breadcrumbs, olive oil and Parmesan cheese were spectacular, and there were often marinated artichokes in our nightly salad. Her steamed artichokes served with nothing more than melted better and fresh lemon juice were a simple but delicious first course.
But when was the last time you heard of someone preparing fresh artichokes? Maybe never? While there is a definite fear of artichokes out there, I’m here to report that, despite a little more effort than peeling a carrot, prepping fresh artichokes is not a difficult process. And it is well worth it.
A few simple steps:
- Choose artichokes that are fresh from a market or store that sells them often. “Baby” artichokes are wonderful but are harder to find.
- Trim the stem with a vegetable peeler, much as you would an asparagus stem and remove the rough lower portion.
- Taking a sharp knife, slice about one inch from the top of each artichoke.
- Remove all the tough outer leaves. You should end up with a globe about one-half of its original size.
- Then, with kitchen shears, trim the top part of each remaining leaf around the artichoke.
- Drop the prepared artichoke into a bowl of cold water to which you have added a few tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. This will keep the cut edges from turning brown.
Now you are ready to cook with fresh artichokes. (Be sure to dry them well if you have them soaking in lemon water.) The recipe that follows is a combination vegetable and potato dish that pairs well with roast beef, turkey, lamb, chicken or ham.
Artichokes and Potatoes
- 4 artichokes
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped, flat-leaf parsley
- 4 large yellow gold potatoes, scrubbed but unpeeled
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ cup water
- Dry the artichokes if they have been soaking in water and cut each one in half. Then cut each half lengthwise into 3 wedges and set aside.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil until soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and parsley and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
- Add the artichokes and potatoes and stir well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add the water.
- Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and serve hot or at room temperature.
I think you will like this vegetable dish as a new addition to your holiday dinner. Some of my recent dinner “innovations” have not always been family hits. Among these were mashed sweet potatoes with goat cheese, Harvard beets and a gratin of creamed kale (all looked delicious to me but the beets lingered untouched for a week). I know this will be different.
And I hope you no longer “fear the artichoke.” Have fun!
Buon Natale to all our faithful Burg readers and talented staff.