Monday, July 30, 2007

Baby Artichokes

I felt pretty smug last night when I went looking for a recipe for baby artichokes and found one for artichokes and fava beans in a book of Provence recipes. Unfortunately, I must have done something wrong (starting with not peeling the fava beans, I suppose), because it was pretty bland. But I've learned how to treat baby artichokes and I think I can work with the ideas.

To trim baby artichokes:
Cut end off stem. Cut top off leaves to get rid of the hard spiky parts. Pull off all the hard leaves that stand out distinctly, so that you are left with the edible light-green leaves. Cut in half or quarters lengthwise and drop in a bowl of water with lemon juice. Cook as desired.

Basic idea of recipe:
Toss artichoke quarters in olive oil and sautee lightly. Add white wine, minced garlic, and herbs (fresh thyme), cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add PEELED fava beans, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes, until fava beans are tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

I think I can play with the spicing on this to make it tasty. I might try preserved lemons (except that my daughter ate them all) or plain lemons, curry powder, or onions. That assumes, of course, that I can find more artichoke hearts. I also ran across a mention of pickling baby artichokes, so if I find them, I will buy plenty.


Valli said...

I have to say, I tried fava beans in the pods once and they tasted terrible! What kind of magical cooking are you doing to make them taste good?!?
You are my cooking hero, so I am not surprised that you have accomplished this amazing task.

The Magpie said...

I start with young fava beans, really fresh. But I think the main thing is to cook them with acid; I use preserved lemons, or lemon juice and some salt, and onions. Without the strong flavors, the slight bitterness of the peel can be too much.

Wait a minute - You don't mean in the outer pod, do you? You do have to shell fava beans like you would fresh peas; the pods aren't good to eat. The question is whether you then take off the thin skin on each bean, too - much harder work, and not (I think) worth it.

Valli said...

Yep, I ate the whole pod and everything! Well, now I know why it tasted so bad...

The Magpie said...

No wonder you don't like fava beans! Try them again, but this time shell them!