I had never grown artichokes before, so the whole process was new this year. Even though I planted last year, the plant never reached maturity until this spring. It grew huge and beautiful, and at one point there were 12 artichokes on it!
I was eager to try new recipes with them, inspired by a Facebook posting from my friend and fellow writer Kristi Willis from Kristi’s Farm to Table, in which she asked what are the most intimidating vegetables. I was determined to not be intimidated by artichokes any longer, especially having so many to experiment with instead of having to pay $3.50 a piece at the store. I had a couple of recipes from Lidia Bastianich, including one for a thinly sliced, raw artichoke salad that intrigued me. Unfortunately, I tended to harvest them too late, once they were too big and tough to eat. Next year I’ll be more vigilant to harvest when they are small and tender. This summer I also planted an Italian purple variety that I am excited to see grow next season!
This one here was almost perfect:
But I decided that rather than experiment, I would go for a sure bet. I steamed it in the electric steamer for about 10 minutes, then served it like my mom does, with herb vinaigrette for dipping. I also drew some butter at Will’s request:
I also steamed the last few of the season, but actually processed the. I discarded all leaves, quartered the hearts and tossed them in a salad with the last of our garden lettuce and spinach and a lemon vinaigrette.
The ones that got too big before I could harvest were left alone to do their thing, which I love. Artichoke blooms have got to be amongst the most interesting in the garden! Thy have a certain alien quality to them, don’t they?