Braised Artichokes with Olive Oil and Garlic
If you have never cooked whole artichokes, you are in for a treat. They are easy to prepare once you know how. And eating them is so much fun, as explained in the notes below. This recipe, which came from some Italian friends, takes a little preparation and cooking time, but it is very easy. Serve as a side dish or an appetizer. The recipe can be made in any amount needed.
- 4 fresh, firm artichokes
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Lemon juice or balsamic vinegar (optional)
To prepare the artichokes, first remove the stem. (The peeled stem is edible but, in this case, we want a flat bottom so the artichokes sit upright.) Pull off any small loose leaves at the bottom. Cut about 1 inch off the top and rub with the lemon to prevent browning. With a kitchen shears, cut the points off all the leaves. Rub additional lemon over the entire artichoke. If desired, you can stuff some sliced garlic into some off the leaves.
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a pot large enough to hold the artichokes in one layer and cover them. Add the minced garlic and sauté about 1 minute. Place the artichokes, stem-side down, in the pot. Baste with the garlic and oil. Add enough water to come up about 1 inch. (The less water you use, the tastier it will be. However, it will also take longer to cook.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the leaves pull off easily, about 1 hour depending on size and freshness of the artichokes. Baste occasionally with the liquid. To serve, place each artichoke on a serving plate. If desired, drizzle with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.
Notes: For those of you who have never eaten a whole artichoke, it is simple and lots of fun. Just remove the leaves, one at a time. Place the meaty part of the leaf against your bottom teeth and then scrape to remove the flesh. If the flesh on the outer leaves seem dry, just discard them and continue. After all the leaves have been removed, use a spoon to scoop out and discard the fibers from the bottom to get to the heart, and eat that as well.