I imagine when the day comes that I’m living on that quaint, scenic, stretch of land in rural Italy, this is the kind of thing I’ll have for lunch every day during artichoke season. And, there will be wine from nearby and olive oil from my neighbor of course. I do live a rich fantasy life. Until then, I can now get locally grown artichokes right here at home, and I’m very excited about that. The other day, I went on a bit about our local Austin food scene and incredibly fresh asparagus, and then we received artichokes for the first time ever from our CSA. I was beyond thrilled to find them in the box, and I just happened to have a good idea for how to use them sitting in my stack of recipes to try. In the March issue of Living, Roman-style braised artichokes were shown served with hard-boiled eggs with pine-nut sauce. I followed the recipe almost exactly for the artichokes and delighted in the aroma of garlic and wine from the oven as they cooked. For the eggs, I took a turn from the exact suggestion in the magazine since I had some arugula in my herb garden that I was planning to turn into pesto. I topped my eggs with the arugula pesto and a few extra toasted pine nuts for garnish.
I used to live in fear of cleaning artichokes. It seemed like the most daunting task in the kitchen. I think I’m finally getting used to it somewhat. I’ve learned to work quickly, have lots of lemons at the ready, and focus on how delicious the finished dish will be. Having a bowl of acidulated water ready for the trimmed artichokes is key, and having a cut lemon to rub on each artichoke while you’re trimming it is helpful too. I pulled off the loose outer leaves, cut off the top, trimmed the stem and peeled it, cut them in half, and spooned out the choke before dunking them in the lemon water. A plate is useful to keep the cleaned artichokes submerged in the water. From that point on, this dish couldn’t be easier. The halved artichokes were placed cut side up in a Dutch oven and topped with white wine, olive oil, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, salt, and herbs. I used parsley, oregano, and basil from my garden and skipped the mint since I didn’t have any. The liquid was brought to a boil on top of the stove and then the dish was transferred, covered, to a 350 degree F oven to continue cooking for about 45 minutes. The eggs were simply hard-boiled, peeled, halved and arugula pesto was spooned on each with a few toasted pine nuts.
The artichokes were completely tender and flavorful from the wine, olive oil, and garlic. With the eggs with pesto, some crunchy, toasted bread, and a glass of wine, it made an almost perfect, light meal. The only thing missing was a view of the rolling, Italian countryside. Some day.