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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Artichokes for the Folks

Maybe it's because I moved five blocks from Artichoke Pizza, or because I discovered Trader Joe's life-changing Spinach-Artichoke dip or because its spring.... Whatever the reason, I've been totally crazy for artichokes, ordering them as pizza toppings, putting them on salads or just eating them right out of the jar.

Yes, the jar... I've always assumed working with fresh artichokes would be something like wrestling a cactus.

Tonight I turned over a new leaf and tackled the prickly plant discovering they really are quite easy to handle!

I was home in Connecticut, where cooking is always a treat because I have more than 10 sq. ft. of kitchen space. My dad is also turning over a new leaf and retiring so I thought I would make him and my mom a special meal.

I nominated my Dad as my "blog-ographer," with his new found time and fancy new camera.

I call this dish....

Artichokes for the Folks

Essentially it's Mark Bittman's (New York Times) recipe for Artichokes Provencal but I added shrimp to make it more of a main course.

What you need:
  • a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of a large pan)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed, then peeled
  • fresh herbs - I used thyme for garnish (optional)
  • 1/2 cup good black olives, pitted (I actually hate olives, there are no "good" olives in my book...I must have been possessed when I chose this recipe)
  • Salt
  • 12 baby artichokes (small artichokes are MUCH easier to work with!)
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes tomatoes, halved or left whole (I left mine whole)
  • 12-16 uncooked shrimp can be frozen or fresh, peeled or unpeeled
  • a large pan with a lid

My "mise en place," or everything in place to cook.

Start by heating enough oil to coat the bottom of a large pan over medium heat. While you are waiting for the oil to heat up, smash and peel some garlic and throw it in the pan.

*Hint: Be careful not to burn the garlic, if they are getting too brown you can take them out and let them hang out for a bit like this.

While the garlic is heating up, it's time to tackle those baby 'chokes.

Peel off the hard outside layers.

You will be exposing the artichoke heart (the edible part!)

Now cut off about an inch from the top (the top is where the artichoke bulb comes to a point). That stuff isn't edible either.

Use a peeler or a paring knife (I used a paring knife) to shave off the rough part of the stem and about an inch from the end.

Looking back at the above photo, I'm realizing I probably should have peeled about one more layer off this artichoke. It should be less green/more white. I'm learning too!

Then split it down the middle.

Toss them in the pan with the exposed layers facing down. You can peel, cut and place the 'chokes one at a time. This way the first ones you place will be done when you put the last ones in.

They're all in now...

Now you can start flipping them over if they're browned.

Once you flip them all over you can start tossing in the other "good" stuff, like the olives and tomatoes. This is an ideal time to put back that garlic if you took it out.

Now add a few pinches of salt (not too much because the olives are salty) and just a little bit of water.

Cover your pan and leave it be for 20 minutes.

While your waiting...Go ahead and boil some water in a different pot. Then toss in your shrimp, just until it turns pink, about 2-3 minutes. If they are even a little undercooked that's probably ideal because they will cook some more with the artichokes.

Strain them. Rinse them. Peel them (if they came unpeeled like mine).

After your artichokes and such have been cooking for about 15 minutes, go ahead and toss in your shrimp, put the lid back on and let everything cook together for a few final minutes.

These last few minutes are a good time to chop or prepare your herbs. I used thyme, but I'm sure parsley would be nice too.

Then test your 'chokes for doneness with a fork, they should be quite tender.

Serve your shrimps and 'chokes for your folks (or friends or whoever), on a nice serving platter and garnish with your fresh herbs.

And remember....From start to finish this should take under 45 minutes...

So "Thyme is on your side..." Haha get it?

1 comment:

  1. this is awesome! I think I might make this tonight...especially because of the olives! (i knew you'd come around)