Sunday, October 14, 2007

Artichokes and Dill, Doubly Delicious

Yes, I am overwhelmed by the quantity of vegetables I am receiving every week from my miraculous CSA collective, and yes, I will be leaving shortly for Canada, or somewhere of that sort, for several days, but even so, I just had to bring home seven pounds, oh my gosh, seven pounds, of these amazing prickly artichokes from Muddy River Farm at Union Square last Friday. Not too many farmers in this part of the country grow artichokes, but when we get them they are the best thing in the world. A few weeks ago we had these tiny little guys and now they are huge!

There are a number of reasons I am especially grateful to get artichokes (usually considered a spring vegetable on the west coast) in the late summer and fall. One reason is that it allows me to prepare Alfredo Viazzi’s Artichoke Pasta to accompany the exquisite late summer dish of carrots, beets, and zucchini as the maestro intended (I will be making every effort to post that vegetable recipe while you can still make it this year). Another reason is that it gives me an opportunity to write about my very favorite vegetable just in time for the second anniversary of Weekend Herb Blogging, the inspiring blogging event founded more or less by accident two years ago this week at Kalyn’s Kitchen. A third reason: they are artichokes! I want to have them all the time!

Kalyn suggests that we observe this auspicious occasion by posting a recipe that combines a favorite vegetable and a favorite herb. It so happens that one of my favorite preparations involves artichokes and dill, but it is so simple I am a little embarrassed to call it a recipe. I trim the artichokes, wash them obsessively, and cook them in one inch of boiling water, and serve them with this dill vinaigrette. You can also make them easier to eat by removing the center leaves and choke for your guests. Hmm, maybe it is not as simple as I thought.

Deceptively Simple Artichokes

Artichokes (any size, any shape, any amount)

Wash the artichokes obsessively and soak them in acidulated water to coax out stubborn dirt and bugs. Trim off the stems and tops of the artichokes, and use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the spikes off each leaf in a graduated fashion (I suppose you may skip this step if you really cannot bear to do it, but see how cute they are). At this point, give them another bath just to make sure they are dirt- and bug-free.

Bring one inch of lightly salted water to the boil in a pot large enough for your artichokes and set them in the pot on their little bottoms, so the bottoms can seethe as the tops steam. Stick the stems in the gaps. They have delicious artichoke flesh as well. Cover and cook until the hearts are tender—forty minutes for the real gigantors, less for smaller varieties. Serve the artichokes hot, warm, or room temperature with melted butter or dill vinaigrette. For an especially user-friendly presentation, spread open the outer leaves, and pull out the innermost leaves but keep them in their little floriform cluster. Scrape out and discard the fuzz, and pour some vinaigrette into the heart. Now replace the inner-leaf bouquet on top. That’s nice.

Happy anniversary herb bloggers and congratulations Kalyn.

You will also want to try La Vignarola, a satisfying artichoke stew, and Artichoke, Leek and Matzo Pie.

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Blogger Kalyn said...

Just fantastic! I also love artichokes. When I was small (in the family with so many kids) we would have them occasionally for a treat. My mother did it just like you're describing, although I'm not sure about the obsessively washing part. I used to help cut the leaves with the kitchen scissors. Love the sound of the dill vinaigrette too!

2:44 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

Hi Kalyn,
Well, huzzas to your mother for preparing artichokes for so many kids! Here Here!

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Nicole said...

Next time I prepare artichokes, I'm going to give your dill vinaigrette a try! I don't see fresh dill here in Sicily but I'll be back in the states soon. I love artichokes and I love dill and I can't wait to try them together!

1:18 AM  
Blogger Miriam said...

OMG. I NEED artichokes to LIVE!!!!!!! Totally not a joke. I am obsessed with them. I need to get myself over to the greenmarket ASAP.

1:38 AM  
Anonymous Nomi said...

"I'll tell you what I'm thinking of, Nannie. I will go to Canada, or
somewhere of that sort." (Rex had not studied the character of our
colonial possessions.)

"Oh, Rex, not for always!"

"Yes, to get my bread there. I should like to build a hut, and work hard at clearing, and have everything wild about me, and a great wide quiet."

(George Eliot, Daniel Deronda chapter 8)

It is not every blogger who can make a 19th century literature reference. I do appreciate that about you, Chocolate Lady.

8:10 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

I hope you enjoy them. I also make the vinaigrette with flat leaf parsley or cilantro instead of dill sometimes.

I know what you mean. This may be the last week for artichokes. Good luck!

it's not every blogger who spots 'em. I will be getting around to explaining this in an upcoming post on malevolent appetites in Daniel Deronda, most anorexic novel evah!

11:08 PM  
Blogger esther said...

Ooh it's so exciting that occasionaly our seasons are almost in tune... I have artichokes just plumping up in the garden now. (or maybe not plumping.. maybe spiking up)

Anyway, last week the first 2 went into a spaghetti quite similar to Viazzi's and now i'm eyeing off the next crop. Maybe some dill vinagrette......

12:00 AM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...


ooh, home-grown artichokes!

10:11 PM  

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