Plus, how to prepare artichokes for cooking.
Like a family recipe, this unique variety of artichoke grows only from the same root stock that has been passed down to each generation of family farmers for more than 90 years—never from seed. The heirloom artichoke variety is a perennial plant that is re-grown from original root stock that dates back as far as the 1924 with Ocean Mist Farms. Some of our perennial plants are as old as 20 years!
When heirlooms are available, they are the best eating artichoke. These perennial plants take longer to grow (approximately 9 months) than other varieties grown from seed. By growing slowly during the winter months, the heirloom artichokes get a thicker center heart and meatier petals with an intense flavor. What’s more, one medium artichoke has only 60 calories and provides a whopping 7 grams of dietary fiber, 4.2 grams of protein, and is a nutritional powerhouse with folic acid. iron, B-6, magnesium and vitamin C.
Not sure how to cut chokes? Simply cut in half, remove the leaves, and scoop out the insides:
Now that you’ve mastered the cut, conquer braised artichokes. They’re the perfect side dish!
What You’ll Need:
8 large artichokes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled
2 small leeks, tops trimmed, green outer leaves discarded, halved lengthwise, and rinsed of sand
2 celery stalks, trimmed and peeled
2 small carrots, peeled
2 to 3 pieces thick-slice bacon, about 4 ounces (optional)
1/2 cup (or 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons if not using bacon) extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 dried bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh tarragon
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup dry white wine
What to Do:
Combine the juice of 2 1/2 of the lemons and 2 quarts of water in a large bowl. Trim each artichoke, removing all but about an inch of the stem, the leaves, and with a spoon, scoop out the thistles of the flower inside. Rub the artichokes with the remaining half lemon as you work to keep from discoloring. Place the artichoke hearts in the lemon water.
Cut the onion lengthwise and then thinly slice lengthwise. Cut the leeks into 2 inch pieces and then cut them into 1/4-inch wide strips. Cut the celery and carrots on the diagonal into 1/8-inch thick slices.
If you’re using the bacon, place it in a large sauté pan with a lid that will be large enough to hold all of the vegetables and the artichokes in a single layer. Place over medium heat and render the fat for 2-3 minutes, turning the pieces once. Add 1/4 cup of the oil, mix with the bacon and cook over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, celery, and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly cook the bacon and vegetables, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender but not brown, about 10-12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Drain the artichokes and place them stem side up in the vegetables, leaving space in between each one. Add the bay leaves, herbs, a little more salt and pepper, and the remaining 1/4 cup of the oil. Pour in the wine and 1 1/2 cups of water. Partially cover the pan, and reduce the heat as necessary to keep the artichokes at a gentle simmer, until they can be easily pierced with a knife, 30-40 minutes. If the stems are not cooking as quickly as the chokes, turn from time to time to immerse the stems in the simmering liquid.
Remove from the heat and allow the artichokes to cool slowly in the braising liquid. The artichokes can be served warm with the aromatic vegetables and some of the cooking liquid or at room temperature.