Artichokes reveal bold flavors

By Olivia Fowler

For the Courier

The first time you confront an artichoke in the raw, you might find it a little off-putting.

But once you know how to prepare them, it’s not such a frightening experience.

Fear of the unknown kept me from cooking my own artichokes for some time. I’d just buy the canned ones. And I still use those on occasion, because they are delicious, too.

But nothing can really compare to those you cook yourself, so this week we’re featuring some recipes that include the use of fresh artichokes.

I hope you find some of these to your liking. And still use them for some recipes.

Lemon Butter Artichokes

  • 4 fresh artichokes
  • 1 lemon, halved, plus 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. plus 1 tsp. salt
  • 12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

Bring three quarts of water and 1/4 cup of the salt to a boil in a large pot.

Place the artichokes on a cutting board. Trim the stem ends off until the bottom is flat so the artichokes can sit upright. Cut the top third from each artichoke and discard.

Then cut the pointed tip from each of the remaining outer leaves. Discard.

Rub the cut areas with the lemon halves.

Squeeze any remaining juice from the lemon halves and add the juice to the boiling water along with the juiced lemon halves themselves.

Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, carefully add the artichokes to the boiling water. Top with a heavy pot lid or heat-proof baking dish that will fit inside the pot, so that the weight will keep the artichokes submerged in the water. Lower the heat and cook at a slow boil until the artichokes are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. With oven mitts or pot holders, carefully remove the lid or weighted dish from the top of the artichokes.

With a slotted spoon or skimmer, and with a small bowl or dish held underneath to catch the hot water, carefully transfer the artichokes to a colander set in a sink. With tongs, turn each artichoke upside down and place in the colander. Let drain, inverted, until cool enough to handle.

To make the lemon-butter sauce, melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan.

Add the remaining two tablespoons of lemon juice and the remaining teaspoon of salt, and stir to combine.

Remove the lemon-butter sauce from the heat and transfer to small dipping bowls to serve with the artichokes.

Serve the artichokes either warm or cold.


Artichoke Salad

  • 3/4 lb. red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 lb. green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 6 oz. jars marinated artichoke quarters (reserve 2 tbsp. of the marinade)
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice or orange juice
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the green beans and blanch until crisp and tender, about one minute. Remove the beans from the hot water with a strainer or slotted spoon and refresh in a pot or bowl of cold water. Pat the beans dry to remove excess water.

Add the quartered red potatoes to the same pot of water and cook until the potatoes are tender, about eight minutes. Drain and cool.

Drain the artichoke hearts, reserving two tablespoons of the marinade. In a bowl, add the reserved two tablespoons of artichoke marinade, plus the olive oil, lemon juice (or orange juice), Dijon mustard, parsley, oregano and orange zest. Whisk together until combined.

Add the potatoes, green beans, artichoke hearts and cherry tomatoes to the bowl of dressing nd toss to combine.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


Grilled Artichokes

  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, oregano, thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, cut in half (no need to peel)
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 2 to 4 large globe artichokes
  • Salt

Combine fresh chopped herbs, except for the bay leaf, in a small microwavable bowl and cover with olive oil.. Either heat oil and herbs on stovetop until warm or microwave on high heat for 30 seconds.

Set aside and leave the herbs to steep.

Put an inch of water into a large pot, add the bay leaf and cut cloves of garlic. Put a steamer rack into the pot.

Trim the tips of the pointed eaves off the artichokes, then rub the cut areas with juice from the lemon wedges so they want turn brown.

Cut off the thick outer layer of the artichoke stems with a vegetable peeler. Trim all but two inches off the artichoke base. Cut off the top half-inch of the artichokes and cut the artichokes in half.

Scoop out the fuzzy chokes and the small inner artichoke leaves. Rub lemon juice all over the inside and exposed cut areas of the artichokes.

Bring pot of water to a boil, reduce the heat to medium high and place the artichoke halves, cut side down on the steam rack.

Cover. Steam for 20 minutes or until the heart of the artichoke is just tender when you stick a knife into it.. Heat the grill to high. Brush the artichokes thoroughly with the oil. Sprinkle with salt. Place the artichokes on the grill cut side don, cover and grill for five to 10 minutes until grill marks are visible on the cut side.

To serve, sprinkle the cut sides with more lemon juice. Serve alone or with mayonnaise.


Artichoke, Spinach and Mushroom Casserole

  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus 2 tsp.
  • 3/4 c. chopped yellow onions
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 (15-oz.) container ricotta
  • 1 c. grated monterey jack
  • 1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 c. dried bread crumbs
  • 1/2 c. Parmesan
  • 1 lb. button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 (10-oz.) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 (14-oz.) cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish with two teaspoons of the butter and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt the remaining butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft, about three minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook until they give up their liquid, about five minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, artichoke hearts, mushroom mixture, ricotta, jack, and feta, and toss to combine.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, nutmeg, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add to the spinach mixture. Add the bread crumbs and mix well. Transfer to the prepared dish and top with a layer of Parmesan. Bake until the casserole is firm and the top is golden, about 45 to 50 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve.