Photo: Cristina Ferrare
Artichoke season is in full swing and even though I have a love/hate relationship with this little orb that always manages to prick me with their tiny thorns (several times, I might add) while I'm preparing them, it's always worth it when you sit down to eat them. Artichokes are rich in fiber, potassium and iron, and I eat three to four every week. I love to eat them grilled; in a salad (just the shaved raw hearts) with baby arugula, lemon, olive oil, Parmesan curls and kosher salt; marinated, cooked and tossed in a salad or pasta; or--my favorite--boiled and served with a cucumber vinaigrette. Now that cucumbers are also in season, along with fresh herbs, this is the perfect summer dish and so pretty. It will make everyone ooh and ahh!
Make the vinaigrette: In a glass bowl whisk together mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and salt. Add the scallions, dill, basil and whisk. Pour over the cucumbers and toss together well. Correct seasoning adding more salt if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or more.
Take a kitchen scissors and cut off the thorns on the tips of all of the artichoke leaves.
Use a serrated knife to slice an inch and a half off the tip of the artichoke.
Pull off smaller leaves towards the base and on the stem.
Cut the excess stem so that the artichoke can stand on its own. Carefully pry open in the middle to expose the heart, then rinse in cold running water and place in a large pot. Fill with cold water halfway up the artichokes.
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 25 to 45 minutes or until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off. Cooking time depends on how large the artichoke is, the larger, the longer it takes to cook, I usually take a small paring knife and insert it down the middle of the choke, if it goes in smoothly they're ready.
Carefully lift the artichokes with tongs from the water and turn upside down on a large platter to let the excess water drain. When they are cool enough to handle remove from platter and place on individual serving plates. Gently remove all of the leaves from the artichoke. Take the heart and using a paring knife on an angle gently cut out the tiny leaves with the thorns and tiny hairs all around the heart then use a teaspoon to scoop them out and discard. You should be left with a perfectly round artichoke heart with a clean inside. Place the heart in the middle of your serving plate and arrange all of the leaves around the center of the heart to make it look like a flower. Fill the center of the heart with the cucumber vinaigrette and serve. Make sure to have a bowl on the table for the discarded leaves.
NOTE: You can prepare the artichokes and vinaigrette the day before and keep in the refrigerator until ready to assemble and serve.
Published on June 13, 2011