What a glorious week it has been in Los Angeles! The sun is shining, the sky is a beautiful shade of blue, the wind is blowing and you can see the Santa Monica and San Gabriel mountains in the distance. It feels like Spring, even in Southern California.
I have been taking walks during lunch and often stop at Joan’s on Third (one of my favorite places to eat and shop) where I pick up half a grilled artichoke, a perfect spring vegetable. They are full, luscious, multi-layered, delicate and incredibly versatile. Last week we had dinner with our friends and Steve made a wonderful puree of artichoke soup. I may be able to get him to share the recipe!
Eating artichokes, unlike any other vegetable, requires patience. Peeling one leaf at a time, dipping it into your favorite sauce and savoring each small edible part of the petal, you are then rewarded with the heart. My sons would fight over the heart, and I always understood why.
My mother always boiled her artichokes and served them with vinaigrette. I now prefer this two-step process.
4 large globe artichokes
Wash artichokes and trim each leaf, cutting off the sharp tips as well as the stem. Place in a basin of water with a sliced lemon. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add artichokes and cook for about 30- 40 minutes or until leaves can be pulled off fairly easily. Remove and turn artichokes upside down so water drains out. Allow to cool.
Cut the artichokes in half and using a small paring knife, remove fuzzy choke and any purple tipped petals.
Combine 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar with 4 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and spread on rimmed cookie sheet. Place cut side of artichokes on top of vinaigrette and press down, slightly flattening artichoke. Roast at 475 degrees for about 30 minutes or until artichokes are slightly charred. You can also grill them if you prefer.
My two favorite dipping sauces.
Honey Balsamic Dip
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste.
1 cup mayonnaise mixed with 2 large minced cloves of garlic and 2 large basil leaves. Salt and pepper to taste. Blend in food processor.