Sunday, February 10, 2008

No choking: crispy sauteed baby artichokes

These were not the finest specimens, but they were the only ones I've seen in quite a while. We don't get them in Denver, and the last few times I've looked for them in California, they were nowhere to be found conveniently. (Trader Joe's used to sell them packaged, but no more.) I found these at Berkeley Bowl and snatched them up, warts and all.
The warts get removed, anyway. I was reminded of that old riddle: What do you eat that you have more of when you're done? Which really applies to big artichokes. With the baby ones, I slice off the top and most of the stem, remove the tough outer leaves and use a vegetable peeler on the stem.

Then I cut them in half and sauté them in butter over low to medium heat until they are just this side of burnt. I usually have to add more butter halfway through. With truly baby artichokes (as opposed to these teenagers), you may not need to cook them as long.
But I like the browned, crispy flavor and texture paired with that special artichoke taste.
If you have regular access to them (lucky!), you could steam them or boil them and put them in salads and such. But they are so rare for me that I just cook 'em up and eat them all by themselves. Just like that.


  1. Beautiful ! This is one of our ritual munchies, with some fried garlic added to it . We normally use grapeseed or olive oil, but the butter sounds even tastier. You can never have too much butter! Thanks for the idea on that.
    We used to get them at TJ's too, if we're lucky. We've been able to find them at some farmers markets out here, but they are quite $$$$. I've heard that costo/priceclub has carried them on occasion. Do you guys have these out in Denver?
    Todd has mentioned growing artichokes, but from what I've seen, there's alot of vegetative plant for just one artichoke. Too much work and too much space required.

  2. We have Costco, but the little artichokes never make it here. Maybe too delicate to ship?

    I have tried growing them without much success (not the best climate). I understand they're quite attractive, but you'd have to devote a lot of space to get an appreciable crop.

    When I was growing up, we'd get artichokes as a special treat when they were in season, so I still think of them that way, and just keep my eyes open for the occasional opportunity to buy them.

  3. how do you eat taht! do you eat the leaves too? do you pull them off and scrape or....

  4. Hi, Tanya Kristine. You eat the whole thing. These are baby(ish) artichokes, so they're pretty tender, and the choke hasn't turned all choky yet.

    Notice that I've pulled off a few layers of the outer leaves before cooking them, and sliced the tops off, so there's no risk of eating those little barbs on the leaves.