Saturday, April 18, 2015

Artichokes with Garlic and Olive Oil

I have a friend, a consummate cook, who has a blind spot. Although she loves to eat artichokes, she isn't sure about how to cook them. And therefore she never does.

So I dedicate this post to CC, and I hope from now on she never hesitates to cook artichokes. This recipe is ridiculously simple to do. It only requires four ingredients--artichokes, garlic, olive oil, and salt--and the results are utterly delicious:

Artichokes with Garlic and Olive Oil
(serves 4)

4 artichokes (pick tightly furled ones that "squeak" slightly when you squeeze them)
4-8 garlic cloves, peeled (depending on their size and your love of garlic)
1 Tbsp. olive oil

In a saucepan just large enough to hold all the artichokes upright (but not so large that they flop over), add an inch of water, the olive oil, and a generous sprinkling of salt (like the amount you'd add if you were cooking pasta in the water). Turn on the heat under the pan while you prepare the artichokes.

To prep the artichokes, cut a small slice off the bottom of each artichoke stem, making sure the cut will allow the artichoke to stand up straight. Like this:

Place the artichokes upright in the pan of water, bring water to a simmer, and cover with lid:

(I was only cooking two, so I downsized the pot accordingly.)

Let the artichokes simmer for about an hour, then check to see if they're done: Using a pair of tongs (or your bare fingers, if you're tough), pull on one of the outer leaves and give it a taste. If it comes out easily and the "meat" of the leaf slides off easily under your teeth, the artichokes are done. If the leaf doesn't release easily or doesn't taste entirely done, then let the artichokes simmer 10-15 minutes longer and test again.

Remove artichokes from the hot water with a pair of tongs and turn them upside down for a moment to drain out any water caught in the leaves.

Artichokes cooked this way are equally delicious when served hot, room temperature, or chilled. Serve with a side dish of hot melted butter (for hot artichokes) or aioli or mayonnaise mixed with something yummy (lemon juice, Sriracha sauce, etc.). Or just enjoy them "naked"--my favorite way.

P.S. If the artichokes in the store look a bit "scorched," they might have been touched by frost. The discoloration doesn't affect their taste. Some growers put a tag like this on their product, just in case. So don't let the homely looks throw you off!:

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