Real Food – Artichokes Aplenty~

17 05 2010

One of the best things about living in Northern California is that we aren’t that far from Castroville and all those marvelous artichokes!  This one is close to life size.  No…I’m not kidding.  These were HUGE.  They were also all of 87¢ each.  I got 3.  They were just so pretty!  I couldn’t resist!

I grew up with artichokes, so I’m not at all put off by them…except to gasp at the price most of the time!  When I was getting to know my husband, we discovered we both liked artichokes.  It was a wonderful moment, because neither of us really knew anyone else who cared much for them one way or the other!  It wasn’t until he sat down to cold artichokes with a mayonnaise dressing that we realized we hadn’t discussed preparation methods at all!  He’d never had a cold artichoke…I’d never had a hot artichoke!  How can one thistle be so versatile!??

All I’m sure of at this point is that the prolonged cool “Spring” weather we’ve had has been fabulous for the artichokes this year.  As a cut and come again crop, you want to get these big guys off the plant so smaller globes will set after the first cutting.  I confess, I’ve done my share to promote this crop this year.  I’ve bought well over a dozen large artichokes this year so far.   Not all at this kind of price, but quire a few!

This year I’ve finally had my fill of plain artichokes and I’m ready to try some exciting new ways of cooking them!  Just tonight, I finally realized how to trim them for some of the Italian recipes.  Now I’m really excited!  I still have a few stashed away for those projects.  Fried artichoke crowns…  Artichoke gratin…  In a year like this, break out the fun recipes!!  In the meanwhile, they’ve made wonderful side dishes…both hot and cold!  My favorite is still a hot artichoke with roasted garlic aioli and a grilled steak to go with it.   Pure heaven.  A sure sign that God meant us to be adventurous with our food.

Can you imagine?  Who was first to decide to eat one of those things?  *Ü*

Roasted Garlic Aioli

2 heads garlic, split in half, drizzled with olive oil, wrapped in foil and roasted at 425° for 45 minutes or until garlic is caramelized and soft.
1/2-3/4 cup mayonnaise (fresh is nice, but not necessary)

Mash roasted garlic and stir in mayonnaise.  That’s all.  The garlic simply becomes more “dippable” when it’s mixed with the mayo.  It reminds me of an unguent.  An unguent for my tongue.  *sigh*  I just finished an artichoke…but if I don’t stop this I’m going to have to get into another one! LOL!