Raise your hand if you’d like to devour an artichoke right now. I thought so. Raise your hand again if you’re really not sure how to make it. Good! I can help you with that! But first, here’s a little history on the artichoke capital…
As with many produce items, growing up in California made it easy for Mom to prepare artichokes for us often, because it was a common crop. Why? Because of the small town of Castroville near Monterey. It’s the artichoke capital, and nearly all artichokes grown commercially are from there. They even have an Artichoke Festival each year, complete with a parade and a Queen. I remember driving through there with my family as a teen, on our way to family camp. It was pretty wacky, seeing “all things artichoke” along the roadside stands and buildings as we drove up the coast. Even though you may not have heard about Castroville, no doubt you have heard of their favorite 1948 Artichoke Queen. As the story goes, Miss Doreen Nash was scheduled to make appearances as the honorary Queen, but wasn’t able to attend. So, a replacement model was sent. Her name? Marilyn Monroe.
Artichokes are one of those foods that I cannot seem to get enough of. I love how each bite is drenched in butter (of course!) and the creamy rich flavor makes you eat the whole thing before you even think about starting with the rest of your meal. Here’s a fun fact: “Research has found that the phytochemical Cynarin (found in Artichokes) truly does stimulate the taste buds. It’s also responsible for bringing sweet flavors to any foods you eat immediately after eating the artichoke”. How cool is that? As for cooking them, I always used to boil them, but I really didn’t like that no matter how well I drained them…their plate still ended up with a lake on it, halfway through eating it. I also wasn’t enamored with the floppy leaves. But, the flavor was pretty good.
Then I tried roasting them. WOWEE! They were FABULOUS! Why? Because roasting brought out more of the sweet, nutty flavor we’ve all grown to love… and the leaves kept their composure. Plus, the plate stayed dry too. Perfection!
Roasted Artichokes with Lemon Butter
6 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 425°
Cut off the tops with a large serrated knife. Make sure you go down far enough to see a little bit of the purple. Make a fresh cut off of the very end of each stem. Peel the outer skin from the stems using a serrated peeler. Cut the stem from artichoke right at the base. Make center slices from fresh lemons (1 slice per choke).
Cut 2 pieces of foil for each choke (approx. 12″x15″ each) and lay them out on top of each other like a plus sign. Sit artichoke and stem in the middle of the “+”. Drizzle each choke and stem with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and juice from 1/2 lemon. Top with lemon slice. Bring up foil to top; crimp and roll down. Fold each side toward choke, crimp and roll. Repeat with second foil piece. Tightly compress foil around artichokes, and place in baking pan.
Bake 90 minutes. CAREFULLY unwrap (they’ll be hot!) and place on a plate.
6 Tbsp. Butter
Melt butter in saucepan, or in microwave. Add lemon and stir well.
Divide among 3 small dipping bowls.
I made these artichokes a couple of nights ago for my boyfriend and his son. Kenny had tried this recipe before, but it was a new one for Cody. The verdict? He loved it. Hooray!
Tell me: How do you usually prepare artichokes (or do you?)…and what are your favorite ways to enjoy them? I’d love to hear about it, so please leave me a message in the comments section below. Thanks!