Artichokes with lemon butter parsley sauce
The simplest way to prepare artichokes is to boil them in lemony water and serve with lemon butter. To eat them you peel back each leaf and scrape the fleshy part at the bottom of the leaf with your teeth. It’s not the most graceful way to eat but can be quite interesting, raising the leaf to your lips, closing your teeth on the flesh and slowly pulling the leaf back with the silky, fleshy artichoke filling your mouth with it lemony flavours. Got it?
Once you have peeled off all the leaves you are left with the heart of the matter, the heart of the artichokes. The heart is fully edible and puts you back in graceful eating land. You can now wipe the lemon butter off your chin and use your knife and fork to finish the delicious assault on arti. Don’t forget the lemon butter, drizzle it on the heart or dip a forkful in the sauce dish before raising it to your mouth to savour the last few silky bites of this amazing vegetables.
Artichokes are best in season and their season is early spring, which is now. I have been buying them often to enjoy while they last. These two beauties made a quick lunch-snack in mid afternoon when I took a break from cooking dinner for company we were having that evening. We sat at the kitchen counter (the dining table was already set for dinner) in silence, savouring every bite. I even like the way the plate looks after we have eaten the artichokes, with the beautiful leaves piled on the plate, still glistening with the butter and specks of green parsley. I have to go out today and see if I can find some more artichokes.
2 large artichokes, nice and tight
1 lemon, sliced into 4-5 round pieces
Lemon butter parsley sauce:
4 tablespoons butter, softened (or use all olive oil for a vegan version)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Note: if you happen to have parsley pesto in the fridge, just add a tablespoon of it to the soft butter and lemon juice.
Fill a large pot with water.
With a very sharp knife slice off the top half of the artichoke and rub the cut surface with a piece of lemon. If there are any stray leaves with sharp tips peel them back and discard, rubbing all cut surfaces with lemon.
Trim the stem off so the artichoke can sit securely on a flat bottom. Rub the cut surface with lemon.
Drop the artichokes into the pot of water together with the cut lemons, including the slices you used to rub on the cut surface.
Bring the water to a boil, turn the artichokes cut side down in the water (they will float) and cover them with a sturdy paper towel (one that wouldn’t disintegrate in the boiling water) or a small clean kitchen towel to keep them submerged. Partially cover the pot and cook the artichokes at a slow boil for about 30 minutes or until they are cooked through. You can insert a knife through the center to check if they are done. The knife should go in easily without resistance.
When the artichokes are cooked through remove them with a slotted spoon, letting the water drain from the artichokes, and set upside down on a plate to finish draining.
When the are comfortable to handle scoop out the hairy choke from the center of the artichoke with a spoon. It should come out quite easily and leave a nice cavity in the center. Be sure to remove all the hairy parts but keep the artichoke intact.
To make the lemon parsley butter:
Place the soft butter in a small dish and add the olive oil, lemon juice and parsley. Mix with a small whisk until the mixture is liquid. If necessary, you can place in a microwave or over heat for just a few seconds to help the sauce liquify.
Place each artichoke on a plate, drizzle some of the sauce over, letting it run down between the leaves.
Serve with additional sauce in a small dish on the side that can be used individually to dip the leaves in.
Enjoy the experience.