Baby artichokes inspire a fervor almost unrivaled by other springtime produce. Sure, ramps have their devotees and noses are wrinkling in bathrooms across the nation right now over love of asparagus, but cooks go pretty nuts for baby artichokes, too. If you’re not so impassioned, it might be hard to imagine what causes such devotion, apart from the general cuteness of miniaturization. Me? I like ’em for the purest reason of all: laziness. They’re about a squazillion times easier to deal with than their full-grown brethren.
To wit: prep time for 10 baby artichokes, including rubbing the cut sides with lemon juice, was somewhere in the neighborhood of five minutes. Try trimming that many full-grown artichokes in the same amount of time. OK, maybe you’re a champion artichoke-trimmer for all I know, but I’d still be in the kitchen, weeping and cursing my bright idea for a meal.
Unfortunately, the weekend weather didn’t cooperate enough to allow me to grill these, so I used the broiler instead. I’d like to get that smokey flavor next time, but as a quick substitute, I was more than happy with these. Once they came out of the oven cooked through and a little charred, I drizzled them with bagna cauda and lemon juice and promptly died of pleasure.
I’m one of those people who LOVES salty, pungent foods, so bagna cauda’s one-two wallop of anchovies and garlic is right up my alley. But then there’s just something about it with artichokes, the way it accents the vegetal flavor.
I devoured as much as I could and grudgingly made an offering of the toughest outer leaves for the artichoke god. It’s the least I could do for such bounty.
recipe after the jump
Broiled Baby Artichokes with Bagna Cauda
10 baby artichokes
bagna cauda, recipe follows
Heat broiler while prepping the artichokes.
Slice off stems of artichokes, if necessary. Halve artichokes lengthwise and immediately rub cut sides with lemon to prevent them from discoloring.
Place artichokes cut side up in broiling pan and sprinkle with salt and olive oil. Broil until artichokes begin to brown and bases soften, flipping once.
Spoon bagna cauda over cut sides and drizzle with lemon juice. Remove tough outer leaves before eating, if necessary. (My artichokes were a little large, so I had to remove some of the leaves. If yours are on the smaller side, you may not need to.)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tin anchovies packed in olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Mash garlic and anchovies to a paste with a mortar and pestle. Heat olive oil over medium-low heat and add paste, stirring until fragrant and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Whisk in butter a tablespoon at a time until emulsified.