I grew up in artichoke country near Watsonville, Ca, the artichoke capital of North America. While I practically worship large, globe artichokes, the baby ones make for a great vegetable side dish or as a starter or appetizer. May of them (particularly the less round and more elongated specimens) do not have a choke which makes them easy to clean and you do not have to worry about the "choking" part.
Ingredients (serves 6-8):
-3 pounds of baby artichokes
-2 tablespoons herbs de Provence or a mix of dried oregano and thyme
-Extra virgin olive oil
-1 cup dry white wine
-1 bowl of acidulated water
Fill a bowl with water with the juice of 3 lemons. Leave the lemons themselves in the water as well. This will keep the chokes from rusting and turning brown while you are working.
Using your fingers peel the outer leaves of each choke until no more leaves easily come off. You will be left with a small choke with very young leaves. Cut off the bottom quarter of the choke and discard. Using a paring knife peel away the outer layer of the stem. Take care to preserve the stem for aesthetics. Cut the choke in half, length-wise and place into your bowl of acidualted water.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Remove your chokes from the water and pat dry with paper towels. Saute over high heat for 5-6 minutes. Once in the pan sprinkle a little fleur de sel and herbs de Provence. Toss the artichokes until they are slightly carmelized.
Season with a bit more of the herb mix. Turn down the heat and pour in the white wine. Simmer on low for 4-5 minutes or until the chokes are cooked through..
James is a food writer and Bay Area chef who owns and runs a private dinner party and cooking class business specializing in regional Italian and Spanish cuisine. See CookWithJames.com